EXCLUSIVE: RETIRED JUDGE KANTROWITZ ALSO INVOLVED IN DECEMBER 2018 ACCIDENT
PEDESTRIAN WAS HIT, SUFFERED FRACTURE TO SPINE
NO CHARGES FILED IN THAT INCIDENT
ROCK HILL - While Sunday's auto accident that resulted in the death of two teenage boys from the Town of Thompson was an immense tragedy, it may have been preventable.
The SullivanTimes learned tonight from a Department of Motor Vehicles accident report that retired Town of Fallsburg Justice Isaac Kantrowitz, 86, was also involved in another accident -- on the afternoon of December 4, 2018 -- in which a pedestrian, Irina Prokopenko, was hit and seriously injured.
According to the accident report obtained by The SullivanTimes, Kantrowitz was driving a 2017 Hyundai when he hit Prokopenko on Glen Wild Road, just south of Harvard Square in the Town of Fallsburg.
In an interview late Monday, Prokopenko's daughter, Diana, said that her mother was first taken to Orange Regional Medical Center and later rushed to Westchester Medical Center after the accident because of the extent of her injuries.
"She couldn't walk because she had a fracture to her spine," Diana Prokopenko said. "The doctors said 'if you don't get surgery you won't walk again'...so she agreed to surgery and everything went fine."
Prokopenko added that her mother was in rehabilitation at Westchester Medical for about three months and came home in March. "She has recovered amazingly," she said.
The younger Prokopenko said she had just read about the latest accident in Rock Hill on Monday and was surprised the judge was driving with a license after the December accident.
"I know people who get pulled over for the littlest things," she said. "And if I killed two children, I'm sure they would arrest me then and there. I thought they should have at least suspended his license yesterday..it was his second accident in six months."
Troop F of the State Police said early Monday that Sunday's accident remains under investigation. State Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact the State Police at Wurtsboro at 845-888-2681 and reference SJS# 8949583. The Times Herald-Record reported today that family members said that Kantrowitz was permitted to remove items from his vehicle and leave the scene in a private vehicle.
It' was unclear late Monday if Judge Kantrowitz was ticketed for any violation in the December accident. The SullivanTimes has reached out to Fallsburg Police Chief Simmie Williams for comment since his officer, J.M. Chevalier, signed the accident report. It was reviewed by "T. Scheuering" on December 12, 2018.
In 1979, Judge Kantrowitz, then the Village Justice in Woodridge, was admonished by the State's Commission on Judicial Conduct for trying to alter or dismiss traffic tickets. The Commission wrote:
"It is improper for a judge to seek to persuade another judge, on the basis of personal or other special influence, to alter or dismiss a traffic ticket. A judge who accedes to such
a request is guilty of favoritism, as is the judge who made the request."
Despite the admonition, the judge continued to have a long, successful career on the bench where was known for his sense of humor and was well liked and respected by many in the community.
The Town of Fallsburg courtroom was named after him in 2011. He had two brothers, Seymour Kantrowitz, who died in 2005, and Leon Kantrowitz, who died in 2008. Those two brothers operated an auto repair business under Kantrowitz Brothers Inc. Leon bought Seymour out of the business in 1975 and the business continued for more than 25 years.
The judge's nephew is Norman Kantrowitz, a long-time investigator for the New York State Police before retiring about five years ago. HIs son-in-law is Jacob Billig, a well-known local attorney.
-- Rich Klein