Second Victim in Great Barrington Fire Dies
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Monday's structure fire in Great Barrington has claimed a second victim.
Susan Romano, 67, died at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center on Tuesday night. Her husband, Michael Romano, died Monday night.
"On behalf of the town of Great Barrington, I offer our heartfelt condolences to their family. Every fire death is tragic, but the loss cuts deeper during the holidays," Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger said.
The couple were pulled from their 24 Silver St. home by firefighters on at about 7:40 p.m. on Monday night. Both were unresponsive and Michael Romano died shortly after at Fairview Hospital.
The fire was contained to the Romano's unit in the eight-apartment building. The blaze is under investigation but the early focus has been on an accidental cause, according to authorities.
Original post: Dec. 10, 2019, at 11:52 a.m.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — One man has died and a woman is in critical condition after a fire Monday evening at the Beech Tree Commons apartment complex.
The Berkshire District attorney's office has identified the deceased as Michael Romano, 68. As of Tuesday, Susan Romano, 67, remains hospitalized at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center as a result of injuries sustained in the blaze.
The Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire with possible entrapment at 24 Silver St. at approximately 7:40 p.m. Monday. Fire units found fire venting from a rear apartment of an eight-unit apartment building.
A primary search was initiated along with fire attack, officials said in a news release. Two unresponsive occupants were located and rescued within minutes. Southern Berkshire Ambulance provided medical care and transported both patients to Fairview Hospital, where Michael Romano was pronounced dead.
The fire was quickly knocked down and contained to one unit. Utilities were shut off to the building, forcing the occupants to seek alternative housing for the evening. Accommodations at local hotels were provided by the Beech Tree Commons management.
A second alarm was initially requested dispatching Monterey, Egremont, Stockbridge and Sheffield fire departments but canceled when the fire was brought under control. Great Barrington Fire received assistance on scene from Great Barrington Police, Southern Berkshire Ambulance and the Fire Department Support Group. Lenox Fire provided a RIT team and Sheffield Fire provided station coverage.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Investigators do not believe the cause of the fire is suspicious at this time but the investigation remains ongoing. The Office of the State Fire Marshal, Great Barrington Fire and Police, and Massachusetts State Police are investigating.
Authorities Release Details of Alleged Assault at Simon's Rock
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The details of an alleged assault at Bard College at Simon's Rock more than two weeks ago have been released by the authorities, and several aspects of the account aren't adding up.
The victim, an unidentified student of color, has said they were assaulted on a trail on the college campus and dragged into the nearby woods. This allegedly occurred on Friday, Sept. 27, and the campus safety office was alerted at 2 p.m. that day. The student was taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center, treated for minor injuries and released.
The investigation into the reported assault continues, according to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, but the DA and Great Barrington Police have provided more details "given the unease that the complaint has caused for the community, particularly for Simon's Rock students and faculty."
• According to authorities, the student reported being rendered unconscious and being dragged about 75 yards into the woods along a wooden path with dirt and mud but neither the student nor the any of the student's clothing had any dirt or debris.
• The student reported later waking with cuts through the student's clothing, resulting in cuts to the student's torso. The superficial wounds on the student's torso did not align with the cuts on the student's clothing.
• There also were no defensive wounds on the complainant and records provided thus far do not provide a medical reason for unconsciousness.
• Investigators conducted three interviews of the student and no description of the alleged assailant was provided to investigators during any of the interviews.
• No surveillance footage of the area is available and none of the witnesses in the area at the time reported seeing any other potentially involved parties in the vicinity.
Investigators from the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, in collaboration with Great Barrington Police, conducted numerous interviews, searched the grounds, searched electronics, and sent items to the State Police Crime Lab for forensic testing.
Investigators are looking into all aspects of the case, from the nature of the original complaint to potential motivations behind the alleged assault. The investigation remains ongoing by law enforcement and forensic testing has yet to be finalized.
A significant amount of resources have been devoted to the complaint. The investigation involves multiple law enforcement agencies including Great Barrington Police, Simon's Rock Campus Safety, the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the State Police Crime Scene Services Section, and forensic scientists assigned to the State Police Crime Lab. The U.S. Attorney's Office has been notified because of the potential racial motives for the alleged attack.
Anyone with additional information that can aid in the investigation is asked to contact Great Barrington Police at 413-528-0306.
Police Investigating Assault at Simon's Rock; College Cancels Classes
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Bard College at Simon’s Rock has canceled classes for the week as it deals with an assault on a student and the appearance of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti.
Police are investigating an assault that occurred on Friday at 2 p.m. on a wooded area of the campus. The victim was taken by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and treated for minor injuries and released, according to Great Barrington Police and district attorney's office.
The Berkshire Edge reports that the college community was apprised by email that "a student of color was physically assaulted on the Simon's Rock campus by an as yet unidentified assailant."
The email states that the decision was made by the senior college officials along with the Black Student Union and faculty. Instructors will be available on campus during their regularly scheduled classes and office hours.
Bard College is a top-ranked private liberal arts college with a small enrollment of about 400.
The assault is being investigated by local and state police units and the college's Campus Safety Office.
Lee Woman Seriously Injured in Stockbridge Road Accident
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Police say a pot-impaired teenager seriously injured a young Lee woman on Wednesday night when his car hit her on Stockbridge Road.
Police say 19-year-old Khali Zabian was northbound when her car veered off the highway and struck guardrails near Fountain Pond. She called 911 to report the accident.
But when Officers Timothy Ullrich and Elias Casey arrived, they found that Zabian had been struck by an oncoming car and had been thrown some distance from her vehicle.
A good Samaritan who had stopped to help her told police that the other vehicle "suddenly came upon them," according to the police report, and "they attempted to run to safety but the female operator was struck."
Zabian was taken by Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
Police say the driver of the second vehicle is a 17-year-old from Great Barrington who also had a juvenile passenger with him. Ullrich charged the teen with operating under the influence causing serious bodily harm. "Police have probable cause to believe he was impaired after having used marijuana," according to the police press release, and that field sobriety tests were performed at the scene. The boy's name is being withheld because of his age.
Both vehicles sustained significant damage, Zabian's from hitting the guardrails and the boy's from hitting Zabian.
The incident is being investigated by the Police Department and state police Accident Reconstruction & Analysis, Crime Scene Services and detectives from the district attorney's office. The Fire Department, Stockbridge and Monterey officers and state troopers from the Lee barracks also assisted.
Great Barrington Police Respond to Fatal Hunting Incident
Update at 6:30 p.m. with identification and quote:
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A 44-year-old Pittsfield man was killed on Saturday during what police say was a hunting accident.
Christopher Puntin had been participating in a youth turkey hunt with two other adults and a juvenile.
According to Chief William Walsh, Police Officers Jonathan Finnerty and Kristopher Balestro, firefighter and EMTs responded about noon to a report of a hunting incident in a wooded area on Monument Valley Road and located the victim.
Puntin sustained a fatal gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured.
An initial police investigation suggests the incident was an accident.
"This is a tragic situation for all involved," Chief William Walsh said. "I'd like to commend the efforts of all responders under the command of Sgt. Adam Carlotto and Sgt. Paul Storti on a very difficult call."
Walsh also praised the assistance police received Saturday from the Fire Department and the Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad Saturday.
This incident remains under investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Police and State Police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and Great Barrington Police.
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