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Putnam Daily Voice serves Brewster, Carmel-Kent, Cold Spring, Mahopac, Patterson & Putnam Valley
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Ex-Carmel Officer Sentenced For Crash That Killed Teaching Assistant

Pallbearers move Frances Ghelarducci's casket casket to a hearse following her funeral at St. Joseph's Church in Somers.
Pallbearers move Frances Ghelarducci's casket casket to a hearse following her funeral at St. Joseph's Church in Somers. Photo Credit: File photo
Frances Ghelarducci
Frances Ghelarducci Photo Credit: Facebook

A retired Carmel police officer was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday for criminally negligent homicide in the death of a Somers teaching assistant during a 2015 car crash.

Richard O’Keefe, 59, of Mahopac, also lost his drivers license for a year and agreed not to reapply for a license for at least a year following his release from jail, according to Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy.

An investigation into the accident found that O'Keefe was driving his Dodge Caravan at an excessive rate of speed on Route 6 on Nov. 15, 2015, in the Town of Carmel when his vehicle collided with a Jeep driven by Anna Estrada.

The collision caused the Jeep to roll onto its passenger side and collide with a third vehicle causing fatal injuries to Frances Ghelarducci, a 54-year-old mother of three, who was seated in the rear of the Jeep.

Estrada was the designated driver for her husband, Ernest Estrada, Fran Ghelarducci, and Steven Ghelarducci, police said.

O’Keefe refused a Breathalyser test, so an order was issued requiring him to take one. The test revealed he had a blood-alcohol content of .09 percent at the time of the collision, Tendy said.

Estrada voluntarily consented to a Breathalyzer which showed she had no alcohol or drugs in her system at the time of the accident, the investigation found.

The collision reconstruction report revealed that the primary cause of the collision was Estrada failing to yield the right of way to O'Keefe's vehicle; however, contributing factors to the crash were the speed at which O’Keefe was traveling and the fact that he was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol, Tendy said.

"Our community continues to mourn the loss of a wonderful person who had such a positive impact on so many," Tendy said. "Frances was a beloved wife, mother and teacher’s aide at Primrose Elementary School and is missed dearly by all".

O'Keefe will serve his sentence at the Putnam County Jail.

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