Driver indicted in Charity hit-and-run

A truck driver is facing criminal charges in connection with the hit-and-run death of a Geneseo student on I-390 in October.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, a Livingston County grand jury indicted John Martarello of Butternuts, N.Y., on charges of first-degree perjury and leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it. Both are felonies.

The student, 20-year-old junior Kaitlin Charity, was struck by three vehicles after being pulled over by a state police officer at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 20.

The officer took off to pursue another speeder, an off-duty Dansville village police officer, after which Charity got out of her car to go to the side of the road. She was struck by the vehicles while returning to her car, police said.

According to Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran, Martarello is not in custody and has not yet been arraigned. Because of this, he could not elaborate on the perjury charge.

No date has been set for the arraignment.

"We expect that he'll be here soon to answer the charges," Moran told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Wednesday.

The investigation surrounding the incident is closed, Moran said. The two other drivers, whose names were not released, will not face any charges.

At least two of the drivers claimed they believed they'd hit a deer, police have said.

The investigation has revealed that after the accident, Martarello - the first to strike Charity - briefly pulled over to fix a leaking fuel line caused by the impact and later stopped to wash his tractor-trailer before continuing to his destination, a Wegmans grocery store in Gates, just west of Rochester.

A second driver involved in the accident also stopped in Geneseo to wash off debris.

Moran praised the police work that tracked down the drivers of the three vehicles in less than a week after the event.

"In six days, [police] found a needle in a haystack," Moran told the Democrat and Chronicle. He called the police work "herculean."

Charity, an English and secondary education major, was from East Islip, N.Y. She was involved in Nassau Hall Council for several years, tutored a sixth grader at Geneseo Central School, and was a member of the Elementary and Secondary Education Association.

"While nothing can bring Kaitlin back, the college community, and especially Kaitlin's friends, can take some measure of comfort knowing the seriousness with which this matter is being addressed - and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," the college said in a statement after the indictment was announced.

The college held a memorial service for Charity on Nov. 1.

Editor's note: The Dec. 6 issue was the last of the Fall 2007 semester. On Jan. 31, we will return with the first issue of the Spring 2008 semester. For continuing coverage of the Charity case until then, please consult local Rochester news sources.

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Official: speeder in Charity case was officer

The I-390 speeder who was pursued by a state police officer after the officer pulled over a Geneseo student who was then killed in a hit-and-run was a Dansville Village Police officer, a senior Dansville village official has told The Lamron.

According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the state police officer who ticketed Geneseo student Kaitlin Charity in the early morning hours of Oct. 20 sped off to chase off-duty Dansville Village Police officer Jeff Faugh, who the official said was driving over 90 miles per hour.

Charity then went onto the highway, where she was struck and killed.

"It has been brought to the Village Board's attention that this has occurred, and it is being investigated," the village official said. "When we get the results of the investigation, we will take appropriate actions."

According to Dansville Village Police Chief Charles Perkins, the state trooper left to chase another violator after issuing Charity a ticket.

"That may have been an off-duty police officer employed by the Village of Dansville," said Perkins. "My obligation is to research that and determine if that is factual, and if it is factual, figure out if it has any bearing on the officer's employment."

Perkins stressed that he will wait to investigate Faugh's situation until the Charity investigation is complete.

Faugh was reached at his home, and declined to comment.

Dansville Mayor Bill Dixon, reached by phone, also declined to comment because the village is currently investigating the situation.

According to the Dansville official, Faugh was interviewed by the Livingston County Sheriff's Department after the accident. Efforts yesterday to reach the Sheriff's Department after The Lamron received the additional information about Faugh were unsuccessful.

Efforts to secure information from the state police were also unsuccessful.

Three vehicles allegedly hit Charity in the early morning hours of Oct. 20. The vehicles in question have all been impounded, according to the Sheriff's Department. The drivers of the cars, who have all said they did not realize they hit Charity, may face criminal charges.

"We consider this an open pending investigation and are actively working [alongside] New York State Police and the Livingston County District Attorney," said Livingston County Sheriff John York earlier this week.

Authorities are currently planning to present their case against the drivers to a Livingston County grand jury. Because the investigation is continuing, no charges have yet been filed. There is no date for when the grand jury may convene.

Once the case is presented, the jury will have to decide whether or not to charge the drivers. According to York, in cases of this type, whether or not each driver will be charged depends on their awareness of the accident at the time and their subsequent actions.

At least two of the drivers in question claim they believed they had hit a deer.

Investigation has revealed that after the accident, the driver of the semi-truck - the first vehicle to strike Charity - briefly pulled over to fix a leaking fuel line caused by the impact and later stopped to wash his truck before continuing to his destination, a Wegman's grocery store in Gates, just west of Rochester. A second driver involved in the accident also stopped in Geneseo to wash off debris.

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Professor defends Humanities after calls for change

I want to take the opportunity to address some misconceptions about Western Humanities I and II at Geneseo.

Misconception #1: The courses "privilege" Western civilization. Fact: The courses no more privilege Western civilization than calculus "privileges" numbers. The courses are about Western Civilization. Most colleges and universities have some sort of Western Humanities requirement, and rightly so. We have an obligation to understand our own values and institutions. To require a similar Non-Western Humanities course at Geneseo would be fine, if it could be staffed, but it should be required in addition to Western Humanities I and II, not instead of one of them.

Misconception #2: The courses foster a "white male" point of view. Fact: There is no such thing as a white male point of view, any more than there is a "female" or a "black" point of view. There are only points of view. Does Clarence Thomas speak for all people of color? Does Anne Coulter speak for all women? White males disagree among one another on a broad range of issues ? political, social, religious, etc. A "white male" viewpoint does not exist.

Misconception #3: The courses presuppose a biased conception of the great books. To require them, most of which were written by white males, gives the wrong impression. We need other "role models." Fact: The required works in Western Humanities I and II are not considered great because they were written by white males. They are great books that happen to have been written by white males. Similarly, many of the great scientists, composers, etc., have been white males. Should we not read Newton's works? Should we not listen to Beethoven's music? There are objective criteria for determining greatness. Does it follow that white males are intellectually superior? Of course not. It is a tragedy that, for so long, the voices of women and others were muted. What a waste of talent! Almost certainly, there would have been a female and/or black counterpart to Newton or Beethoven. Anyway, the "role model" argument is feeble. Five-year-old children need role models. Our students do not. Most Geneseo students are intelligent, strong, independent thinkers. To suggest that they might believe themselves incapable of achieving their full potential merely because they are required to read books by white males is absurd.

Misconception #4: The courses should deal primarily, perhaps exclusively, with issues of gender, race and class. Fact: Western Humanities I and II ask broad, general, universal questions such as the following: What are human beings in general like? Are they rational? Are they good? What is the basis of government? What is the basis of morality? How can we be happy? Does God exist? These questions transcend issues of gender, race and class. Certainly, there is much room for instructors in Western Humanities I and II to discuss some of these more particular issues, but they are not our primary concern. The Humanities emphasize the things that we have in common. Some folks may be confusing the Humanities with the Social Sciences. The disciplines of psychology, sociology and anthropology focus on these more particular issues of gender, race and class.

Misconception #5: The courses should foster a "politically correct" point of view. Fact: No instructor should impose a particular political view on his or her students. Education is neither "consciousness raising" nor indoctrination in a particular ideology. The antidote to ideological thinking is critical thinking. We should equip our students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to form and criticize their own beliefs.

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Alert system test successful

At around noon on Nov. 15, Geneseo ran a campus-wide test of the NY-Alert system by sending out messages to students via text messaging, phone calls, e-mail, posted signs and verbal announcements.

The results of the test were very encouraging, reported Director of Computing Information and Technology Sue Chichester. Of the 694 students, staff or faculty members who filled out a feedback survey, only eight did not receive the test message in any form.

Over half of respondents reported receiving an e-mail or phone call, and the largest percentage of respondents felt that a text message would be the most effective form of communication.

NY-Alert has worked with cell phone providers to make emergency text messages free of charge to recipients.

"We didn't know what to expect," Director of Environmental Health and Safety Chuck Reyes said about the test. One problem Reyes and Chichester found during the test was that if more than one person had registered a phone number, such as a department line, that phone received multiple messages.

Chichester also said that the phone system could have handled a higher volume of phone calls than it did on the day of the test, meaning the calls could theoretically be made faster. Another problem some students and faculty encountered was the notification e-mail being identified as spam by their e-mail servers.

Chichester was pleased with the success of the test, noting that "in a real emergency, word of mouth kicks in" and can reach the 1 percent of students who do not otherwise receive the message.

She said her biggest concern was the fact that many students, staff, and faculty are not yet registered for notifications. At the time of the test, only 69 percent of students and 38 percent of faculty and staff have registered.

"It's not going to be used," she stressed, "except for true emergencies."

Students can still register for NY-Alert through KnightWeb, even if they have previously declined the invitation to do so. Staff and faculty can register through the SUNY Portal on the Geneseo Web site.

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Finger Lakes swimmer relates tremendous tale of transformation

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, Kathryn FitzSimmons, a Geneseo alumna, retired 8th grade English teacher, and self-proclaimed mermaid spoke to students on her inspiring experiences in turning her life around for the better.

To demonstrate her new vigor for life, she has swam across all 11 Finger Lakes which include lakes Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Keuka, Conesus, Owasco, Otisco, Hemlock, Candice, and Honeoye. Swimming across the Finger Lakes was a triumph for her soul, and a message of inspiration that she hopes others will heed to.

Speaking to a crowd of Geneseo students and townspeople, FitzSimmons revealed personal information about her life, goals, obstacles and triumphs in hopes of encouraging everyone to accomplish all that they are capable of.

When she ended her unhappy 24-year marriage to an alcoholic, FitzSimmons weighed almost 300 pounds and was stuck in a rut of depression and obesity. She was a yo-yo dieter, emotional eater, and caregiver to everyone but herself.

Describing herself in that period of time as "uncomfortable, overwhelmed, depressed and inadequate," FitzSimmons realized that she only had about 30 more years to walk the earth. It was that defining moment of realization that woke her up to take better care of her body and her life.

Reaching 55 was a turning point in her life. FitzSimmons explained that it is not darkness that we are afraid of, it is our light; we are fearful of our full potential. Not wanting to fall into that trap, she began to turn her life around.

Thinking out of the box, she began experimenting with better food, thinking of it as "fuel for the body" and nothing else. With the addition of exercise, she began to lose weight and gain confidence. This new change was not enough, however. She went on to try snowshoeing, kayaking, polar dipping (jumping into water during the middle of winter) and of course, swimming.

After completing her goal of swimming all 11 Finger Lakes, FitzSimmons described herself as "joyful, unafraid, secure, strong and even a little sassy." There was no more "fat girl," she said.

According to FitzSimmons, who didn't specify how long her project took her, swimming the Finger Lakes was like a metaphor for life. It took training, planning, hard work, dedication and fun. Learning from the metaphor, FitzSimmons shared some important lessons.

"You have to expect the unexpected and have patience," she said. Even with obstacles, the rewards are worth the work.

Ending her presentation by stating "I was aimless in life, now I have a purpose, " FitzSimmons is happy to lead a now passionate and focused life. When asked by an audience member about the future, FitzSimmons revealed that there would be many more exciting adventures for her, including the start of a possible next project: walking around all the Finger Lakes.

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