Two New York college students who were heading home for Thanksgiving were killed in a fiery crash that left a third person with life-threatening injuries.
Emergency crews in Columbia County were called at around 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, with reports of a serious crash on State Route 9H in the town Ghent, near the Columbia County Airport.
When deputies arrived, they found one of the vehicles fully engulfed in flames, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said.
The 19-year-old driver of the burning car, Michael Shepherd, of Brooklyn, was pulled out by deputies with the help of another driver, police said.
He was initially taken to Albany Medical Center and was later transferred to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse with life-threatening injuries.
Two other occupants inside Shepherd’s vehicle, 17-year-old Demetre Shepherd and 20-year-old Boburmirzo Sharipov, both of Brooklyn, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
The driver of the other vehicle, identified as a 35-year-old Pennsylvania man, was also taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment.
A preliminary investigation found that Shepherd was heading south on Route 9H in a Lexus sedan when he crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the northbound vehicle head on, according to police.
Investigators do not believe that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.
State Route 9H was closed for several hours while crews investigated. The roadway has since reopened.
Michael Shepherd and Sharipov are students at Syracuse University, while Demetre Shepherd attended the University at Albany, WRGB reports.
All three were reportedly heading home for the Thanksgiving break.
Sharipov, who was in his third year at Syracuse, was remembered as a family-oriented, goal-driven individual on a FundRazr campaign established to help his family with memorial expenses.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 22, the campaign had raised more than $9,000 of its $10,000 goal.
"Everyone always gravitated towards him at any family gathering; always cracking jokes and lightening up any mood," reads the FundRazr page.
"His family cannot fathom and is still having trouble accepting what happened."
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