WHILE BB SNOOZES, PLANET HAS MORE ON DOUBLE-FATALITY IN CAR CRASH AT PHS … TONS OF RUMORS, LOADS OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS … WHY THE STORY MATTERS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JAN. 19, 2014) — Ho-hum, just another routine Monday. The sun rose in the east, the birds did the buck-and-wing, and, oh yeah, and, the Boring Broadsheet failed to do a proper journalistic followup in the spectacular car crash that claimed two lives at the concrete apron that moats Pittsfield High School.
The crash is important for reasons that go way beyond this particular circumstance and incident. Search beneath the wreckage. What do you see? Do you see the recklessness so characteristic of the city’s deteriorating quality of life? If so, ask: Where does it come from? What are its demographics? How pervasive is the mentality? How influential are its proponents? How brainwashed are its followers? If you do not see it, why not? Is it not there? Someone has to ask these questions, and it’s sure that none of the local media save THE PLANET dares to do this.
Those who wish to believe the fantasy that the PHS crash incident is simply an easily dismissed one-off need to open their eyes with which to see and their ears with which to hear. That is best done if they would wear blindfolds and earplugs. If they do that, perhaps they will be able to reflect in silence that the sensationalism of a dismemberment trial has no correlation to the entrenched social and cultural “lifestyle cancer” that is eating away at the body of the city.
——- 000 ——- 000 ——-
While the BB snoozed, THE PLANET went to work, extracting more information from the whirlwind of rumors and hail of hearsay swirling around and in the aftermath of the crash. Sources familiar with the ongoing investigation tell us that:
* There appears to have been no police chase on Second Street. Neighbors and witnesses report the rented 2013 Nissan Altima jetted alone south on Second Street and through the busy East Street intersection. A moment’s thought will point out to you how this is more problematic than if there actually were a Starsky-and-Hutch type car chase.
* There are conflicting eyewitness reports, according to our sources. These include reports
— that there was an attempted intervention by undercover police in another section of the city,
— that the occupants of the vehicle were involved in some kind of confrontation or altercation in the Lincoln Street Second Street vicinity possibly involving gunfire,
— that they were fleeing in response to “being spotted by rival gang members,” and
— that the vehicle was being tailed (not chased) by police. The Acccident Investigation Unit of the PPD is investigating.
THE PLANET cautions that these are not official findings and have not been officially confirmed. The AIU has yet to issue a public report.
* Sources tell THE PLANET that police had received several complaints about a car fitting the Nissan description being operated dangerously.
* The Altima had Connecticut plates. One unconfirmed report claimed Hartford International Airport as the origin of the car.
* Ernest Duck, 37, and Tariq Salley, 34, died in the crash. There were reports that Salley, although listed as living in Pittsfield, also had a New York address. An Internet search showed a “Tariq Salley” with an address of 350 143rd St., Bronx, N.Y.
* Another unconfirmed report said that one of the dead men worked as police informant.
* On Oct. 3, 2009, The BB ran a story by Conor Berry that started this way:
“Overall prison sentences were reduced last week for two men found guilty in a violent assault case after some of their convictions were overturned on appeal.
“A three-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court ordered Christopher T. Horton and Tariq Salley, both of whom were responsible for a Pittsfield assault on Nov. 12, 2005, to be re-sentenced on appropriate lesser charges.
“Both originally were convicted in Berkshire Superior Court in 2007 for a slew of offenses, including three counts apiece of assault by means of a dangerous weapon.”
Berry’s story identifies Salley as 30 years old and originally from Tennessee.
* On Feb. 4, 2005, the BB had this item:
“Three alleged gunmen involved in two separate shootings were arraigned on $10,000 cash bail or surety bond in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday for allegedly kicking and beating a fellow inmate at the Berkshire House of Correction on Jan. 7.
“Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga entered not-guilty pleas for Christopher T. Horton, 19, of Thomasville, N.C., Tariq Salley, 26, of Johnson City, Tenn., and Reggie W. Ellerbee, 24, of Hamlin Street, Pittsfield, on one count each of aggravated assault and battery. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 2 at 9 a.m. on their cases.
“The victim, Jason M. Ostrander, 24, of Spring Street, North Adams was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment of lacerations, bruises and cuts to his face and body, according to court records.
“Horton, Salley and Ellerbee were reportedly caught kicking and punching Ostrander in his head and body at the Berkshire House of Correction shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, according to a report by Mjr. David J. Sinopoli, security director for the sheriff’s department.”
* At 7 p.m. Friday, a candlelight vigil was conducted in Park Square for the two dead men. Pastor Sharon Johnson of Our Father’s Restoration Church, coordinator of the vigil, told the BB, “They were so young.” Johnson described Duck as a “great guy. Very loving. He was a great guy to be around. He was always in high spirits.” Johnson called Salley the “sweetest guy.”
We’re sure, and we mourn the dead and those who experience the loss. Have you noticed, though, that most everyone who dies in circumstances like this or worse are depicted as angels, choir boys, sisters of goodness, and pure as the driven snow job. Come to think of it, middle 30s is not “so young.” Middle 30s is the time for adulthood, responsibility, and solidity of character, saying nothing, of course, about the two dead men in this regard.
THE PLANET can only add that Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 14, was not one of those days when Duck “was a great guy to be around,” to use Johnson’s phrase. It would also appear from the BB clips that Duck was on speaking terms with the wrong side of the law.
* A PHS student who identified herself as Katherine Mortensen said the car crossed the four lanes of East Street, made no attempt to turn east or west, jumped the curb, hit a tree, went airborne, and did a full rotation before slamming into the concrete apron at PHS. “It’s like they wanted to kill themselves,” Mortensen said.
Police have asked that anyone who has information about the crash or the victims to call 413-448-9700.
——- 000 ——- 000 ——-
Meanwhile, violence and mayhem continue to plague Pittsfield. The day after the fatal crash, police reported a near-deadly stabbing that left a 29-year-old North Adams man in critical condition. Stabbings, shootings, and beatings, sadly, would fit into the litany of “ho-hum” that we began this column with, but the striking aspect of this one: It was done in broad daylight, at Madison Avenue and Seymour Street, just off the downtown area.
Police were on the lookout for a man in his early 20s. They described him as a light-skilled Hispanic, about 5 feet 8 inches tall weighing 135.
These sad events do not occur in a vacuum. They come from somewhere, from someone, doing something. Pittsfield officials and politicians can continue to weave their cotton candy pipe dream about how great everything is, but the good folks who have lost the streets of the once-sylvan city. They are no longer safe, and they will soon pay another round of tax hikes for the privilege.
“Once I used to join in, every boy and girl was my friend. Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know what they’re fighting. Let’s close our eyes. Outside, their lives go on much faster. Oh, we won’t give in, we’ll keep living in the past.” — Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, “Living in the Past,” (1970).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.