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Seeing crash still haunts friend of victims

Days later, Liz Maher, 21, is still grappling with the shock of seeing the crash that put one of her friends in the hospital and killed another in her group on Friday night.

"Half the time I'm OK and can talk about it," she said. "Half the time I sit and stare and cry."

It started as a fun night. Maher and a group of six friends, all home from college for Thanksgiving weekend, headed to downtown Rochester.

"It was almost like a high school reunion," she said. "I saw people I hadn't seen for years.

"Then it turned into this horrible, surreal event that I can't even begin to wrap my mind around."


Before going out, the group met up at a friend's house, which is where Maher met Austin Melville, 23, of Rochester. The group met up with more people downtown, she said. At about 12:30 a.m., they left Kathy's Pub to go to Gilligan's. Maher was among the people who crossed South Broadway first.

"We were at the crosswalk at the intersection of Fourth and Broadway. We had the walk signal," Maher said. "We were not intoxicated. We'd had a couple of drinks, but we were all sober and not darting across the road."

What she thinks happened next is that a car came around the corner and hit her friend, Chris Glenski, 22, of Rochester, and Melville. Melville died at Saint Marys Hospital. Glenski is hospitalized in fair condition.

The driver of the car, believed to be Christopher Allen Trautman, 32, of Oronoco, also allegedly hit and seriously injured two more pedestrians a few blocks away. Trautman has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and other offenses.

"I can't even describe how horrible the sound a body makes hitting a car," Maher said. "It was like a gunshot almost. There was no braking or squealing of tires. It was just a horrible crashing noise."

A police officer saw the accident and called 911, she said, and an ambulance was there almost immediately. A van stopped, and the two people who got out took charge of the situation, she said.

"They were holding Chris' head and talking to him," she said. "I wish I knew who these people were. They were with Chris when he was in pain in the gutter and bleeding." Friends got to talk with Glenski at 4 a.m. at the hospital, she said. 

"He's doing amazingly well," Maher said. "He has four breaks in his right leg, three breaks in his right arm, but no internal bleeding or head injury. It's amazing that you can be hit by a car and be that OK. He was joking around and making comic book references. It was good to be able to see him and know he was OK. It made a big difference."


Now she's figuring out how to get to Rochester for Melville's funeral on Thursday. "I don't know his family, but I feel like I need to be there for that," she said.

This weekend she hopes to gather with her friends again, she said. "We are all trying to cope and figure out how to move on from this."

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