HEBRON -- A Hebron man who was blamed for a July 20 crash on Route 22 that killed a Massachusetts woman was charged with manslaughter Thursday because police believe he was trying to commit suicide by causing the crash, authorities said.
Ora L. Roaix, 44, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, a felony, for the collision that claimed the life of Lisa Martin, 43, of North Adams, Mass. Five people were also hurt, and one of them -- a passenger in Martin’s car, Mark Mattison, 44, of South Glens Falls -- is still under medical treatment, officials said.
Police said Roaix admitted the crash was a suicide attempt.
But Roaix’s lawyer, Washington County Public Defender Michael Mercure, said his client is not saying the accident was a suicide attempt and was very sad about Martin’s death.
He was wearing a seatbelt and was driving a much larger vehicle than the one with which his collided, facts that don’t jibe with a suicide attempt, Mercure said.
“It was an unfortunate and sad accident but no crime was committed by Mr. Roaix,” he said. “Not everything tragic and heartbreaking needs to be made criminal. Straining a grieving man’s words to criminalize an unfortunate and grievous accident does not bring us any closer to the truth or the necessary resolution those close to this tragedy need.”
State Police said three cars were involved in the collision after Roaix, driving southbound, crossed into the northbound lane and hit Martin’s vehicle head-on. He was driving an Infiniti sport-utility vehicle, while Martin was driving a small Kia Rio hatchback.
State Police Senior Investigator Thomas Aiken said Martin, who was in the area because she was dating Mattison and was the mother of a teen, was killed instantly. There was no indication of excessive speed, he said.
“She was in her own lane and he hit her head-on,” Aiken said.
Roaix and Mattison were seriously hurt, and passengers in a third vehicle that collided with Roaix’s vehicle as it lay in the road were also hurt, police said. None of the other injuries were life-threatening.
Police said drugs and alcohol were not a factor, but Roaix was charged after State Police learned that he had made comments after the accident to a medical provider that he had been trying to commit suicide by crashing into another vehicle.
He is accused of causing the death of another by acting recklessly.
State Police said the decision to charge Roaix was made after consultation with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Kevin Kortright could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Roaix, who suffered serious leg and arm injuries but has been released from the hospital, was arraigned Thursday morning in Hebron Town Court and sent to Washington County Jail for lack of $15,000 cash bail or $25,000 bail bond.
Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
Roaix is the son of Ora L. Roaix, a 74-year-old former Granville man who served a 15-year prison sentence between 1992 and 2007 for sexually abusing four children, then was ordered “civilly confined” when he finished his sentence.