Twins' father killed in collision with Troy police SUV – Times Union

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This is the Troy police car involved in the fatal early Wednesday morning collision.  
 Justin Byrnes is seen during a Troy Police Department swearing-in ceremony on Monday, July 8, 2019, in Troy, N.Y. (Catherine Rafferty/Times Union)
TROY — The father of 1-year-old twins died from injuries suffered in a crash early Wednesday morning with a city police vehicle, police and friends said.
Officer Justin Byrnes was responding to a 911 call for a domestic dispute when the wreck happened at about 12:56 a.m. at the intersection of Hoosick and 15th streets, Deputy Chief Steven Barker said in a statement. Chief Dan DeWolf said earlier a 30-year-old local man died after the impact. 
Police offered no details about the cause of the crash. DeWolf said paramedics treated the driver at the scene but he died at Samaritan Hospital.
The driver of the vehicle was working for Amante Pizza at 2304 15th St., a long block away from the site of the collision, according to friends.  Following the collision, the pizzeria was closed Wednesday during its regular business hours.
“Last night when he came in, I had a cup of tea with him,” Shariq Qureshi, co-owner of XV Street Convenience Store at 2300 15th St., said of the accident victim.
“He was mellow. He was a hard worker,” an emotional Qureshi said.
The police department did not release the identity of the deceased driver saying it was following the wishes of his family. The Times Union is not naming the driver until his name can be officially confirmed.  
DeWolf said Officer Byrnes was treated at the scene and later released from the hospital. Byrnes joined the police department in July 2019.
DeWolf said the police vehicle’s lights and siren were on, but he did not offer other details about the crash and the investigation when asked.
Byrnes and another officer at the scene were wearing body cameras as they are required to while on patrol, Barker said; he did not know if they were recording at the time of the crash. Detectives and investigators from other agencies are reviewing video collected as part of the investigation, which would include available dashboard footage, body camera video and video from the immediate area taken by surveillance cameras at businesses and residences, Barker said. 
The crash scene is a busy intersection with a McDonald’s restaurant, a gas station and another pizza shop. External cameras could be seen at the gas station and the McDonald’s. There didn’t appear to be any city cameras mounted at the intersection.
Barker provided an account in his statement that generally outlined what happened when the vehicles collided.
“Officer Byrnes was responding, in emergency-operation-mode, to a domestic disturbance in the City of Troy that had been reported by a 911 caller. During that response a crash occurred at Hoosick Street and 15th Street involving Officer Byrnes’ marked Troy Police vehicle and the involved civilian’s vehicle. Officer Byrnes was not in pursuit of any other vehicle, he was responding to the location of the emergency call for service,” Barker said. 
“Officer Byrnes, another Troy Police officer and an uninvolved witness all immediately began rendering emergency medical aid to the driver of the other vehicle. Troy fire personnel continued that medical aid at the scene and the driver was brought to Samaritan Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased,” Barker continued.
Other officers were sent to the domestic disturbance call, Barker said.
The State Police Collision Reconstruction from Troop G responded to the scene to reconstruct the accident, which includes determining vehicle speed and direction of travel. Investigators from the state Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation also were at the crash location. 
“The Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigation is conducting a preliminary assessment of the matter,” a spokeswoman for the agency said.
The attorney general became involved under state law which calls for investigations of deaths of civilians involving police officers.
Troy detectives, troopers and the attorney general’s office will continue to work on the case, Barker said. The deputy chief said “all three agencies are in the process of collecting/processing evidence, interviewing witnesses and analyzing the involved vehicles.”
Hoosick Street was closed between Burdett Avenue and 13th Street during the first stages of the investigation and reopened after the two vehicles were towed from the scene. Police said 15th Street was closed between Hutton Street and Sausse Avenue.
The Troy Police Benevolent Association, the union representing the department’s sergeants, officers and detectives, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mayor Patrick Madden issued a statement saying, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of the young victim of the tragic motor vehicle accident in Troy early this morning. It is an immeasurable loss for his family and the larger community as well. The accident is weighing heavily on all of us today. I’m grateful that our officer was not seriously hurt and for his efforts and those of other first responders who labored to save this young man’s life.” 
Mike Goodwin contributed to this story 
Kenneth C. Crowe II covers Rensselaer County for the Times Union. He writes about Troy, US Census, northeastern Albany County and whatever else comes up. Screenwriting is a fascination. You can reach him at