ALBANY — Dennis Drue, the drunk driver who caused a 2012 Northway crash that killed two teens and injured two others, was released from prison on Thursday morning, state officials confirmed.
Drue was serving 5 to 15 years in state prison at Collins Correctional Facility in Saratoga County after pleading guilty in 2013 in the 58-count indictment against him.
Drue while pleading guilty, admitted that he was speeding, driving recklessly and was high on marijuana when he rear-ended a Ford Explorer being driven by Shenendehowa High School student Chris Stewart, who died in the crash, along with Shenendehowa classmate Deanna Rivers.
Stewart’s two other passengers, Shenendehowa classmate Matt Hardy and Shaker High School student Bailey Wind, both survived. Wind, then-17 years-old, suffered five broken vertebrae and had nearly a half-dozen teeth knocked out in the crash. Hardy, also then-17 years-old, suffered two breaks in his left leg, two fractures in his pelvis, a concussion and other broken bones. Drue was not seriously injured in the crash.
Drue, then 22, had been drinking shots of alcohol before the crash and was legally intoxicated, and also had marijuana in his system when he crossed three lanes of traffic at 80 mph and struck the teenagers’ car.
His conditional release date was scheduled for November 2023, while his maximum release date was November 2028.
Drue, now 32, was first eligible for parole in 2018, but had previously been denied. According to a state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision spokesperson, Drue’s release was not due to action by the Board of Parole, but was instead granted Limited Credit Time, making his earliest release date May 29. Due to the holiday weekend, that day was pushed up to Thursday to ensure that the person will report to their assigned Community Supervision bureau the next day.
Limited Credit Time allowances are a six-month benefit for most incarcerated individuals who have completed certain program plans and have not committed a serious disciplinary infraction.
State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, reacted to the news by once again calling for the passage of a bill called “Christopher and Deanna’s Law,” named after the two fatal victims of the crash. The bill would extend the waiting period between parole hearings from 24 to 60 months for violent crimes and would require all victim impact statements to be video recorded and mandates all voting Parole Board members to watch the videos before making a determination.
“My heart aches for the Stewart and Rivers families who are again reminded of the terrible loss of their beautiful children Christopher and Deanna that they have endured and had to revisit every time they dealt with the state parole board,” Tedisco said in a statement Thursday. “We need to pass the bi-partisan Christopher and Deanna’s Law to enhance the voices of our forgotten citizens — crime victims — and ensure victim impact statements are video recorded and mandate all state Parole Board members who vote on parole for an offender must watch the videos before making their decision. It’s time to fix the broken parole system to prevent a miscarriage of justice. They say seeing is believing. It’s time to truly make crime victims seen and heard.”