Thursday, June 13, 2024

Incoming Freshman Dies in Car Crash

Involved in a crash occurring Aug. 19 on Route 3 in Saranac, west of Plattsburgh; Dalton Criss, 18, of Peru, NY, died Aug. 20th.

Dalton’s mother, Barbara Criss, 55, a passenger in the crash, was transported to Intensive Care in Burlington at the University of Vermont Medical Center. After treatment for head and neck injuries, she is now out of the ICU.

Dexter Criss, artistic director of Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir and an organic chemistry professor on campus, mourns the loss of his son as the Plattsburgh community and Peru High School unite in support.

“He was filled with kindness, compassion and a tremendous amount of talent,” Principal Chris Mazzella of Peru High School said at a community gathering ‘Celebration of Dalton’s Life’ held at Peru High School Aug. 28 in memoriam. Opening with gospel music, the event ended with a variety of speeches about Dalton’s role as an athlete, musician and leader.

“For us, and in our schools, I can strongly say there isn’t a person he didn’t influence with his actions or words,” Matt Berry, Peru High School athletic coordinator, said in a released statement to ABC 22News.

Mourning students, faculty and staff gathered in the Angell College Center Community Hub Aug. 27, sharing anecdotes of good memories and the aspirational character he possessed.

“He was an overall kind guy, always helping people and always smiling,” Shaye Larrabee, a close friend of Dalton said. “He was also a cat guy, liked cats a lot better than dogs.”

An animal lover, Section VII title holder in the 285-pound class, football player, band bassist and choir drummer, Dalton wanted to further his education in the Class of 2023 at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“We hold Dexter, the Criss family, the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir he leads, and others close to the family in our thoughts during such a difficult time. The Criss’ daughter, Danielle, is a SUNY Plattsburgh student.” SUNY Plattsburgh Administrative Officer-in-Charge Josee Larochelle stated via email to students, “We are broken by this news.”

Along with the college’s support, many family and friends have donated to ‘Support Criss Family’s Medical/Funeral Expenses,’ a GoFundMe created by fellow Mississippi State alumnae Rhonda Mae, Michelle Coursey and Cassie Christman with a goal of $75,000. $50,094 of it raised currently over the last two weeks.

The GoFundMe page states:

“The money you donate will help cover the costs of emergency medical transportation to Vermont, hospitalization for both Dalton and Barbara, funeral costs for Dalton, and Barbara’s ongoing medical treatment, which could be extensive as the extent of her injuries are not fully known at this time. The money will also help the family travel via ferry back and forth to Vermont.”

According to a press release from the New York State Police: “Dalton was behind the wheel Aug. 19 when, for unknown reasons, the car went over the north shoulder. It then hit a pole before striking a residence; no one was in the home at the time.”

“He was a sweet kid, just excited to come to school, meet people, and further his education. He was just excited to go to college.” Junior Richeal Quartey said, his orientation leader the previous summer.

“Dexter’s a very strong person, he’s dealing with it well,” Chemistry professor Rajesh Sunasee said. “He always tried his best to go to every one of Dalton’s sports events: he’s very supportive of his son.”

Dexter Criss, his wife Barbara, daughters Lakita and Danielle, and his family are using “a positive and thoughtful outlook on the difficult situation they are facing”.

Doctors found a match for Dalton’s heart on August 21, a legal order donor. An honor walk was held for Dalton Aug 22, honoring his gift of life. The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir sang, as his friends and family lined the halls to say farewell, while Dalton was taken to the operating room.

Receiving support from colleagues, administration, family and friends, as well as their Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Glens Falls and Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir, in the words of close friend Shae Larrabee,

“The Criss Family is moving along the best they can, they know they’ll get past the hard stuff and are trying everyday to keep thinking positive and stay strong.”

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