Troy Couple's Car [Mercury Grand Marquis] Known for Catching Fire when Hit

The Record,

Troy NY

by James V. Franco

September 21, 2004

TROY - Officials identified the two people killed Sunday after being struck from behind on the Berkshire Spur of the state Thruway as Constantino L. LaPietra, 76, and Michelina LaPietra, 64.

State Trooper Maureen Tuffey said it is believed that the two 139 Third St., Troy, residents may have driven by the B1 exit and were either stopped in the roadway or possibly backing up. The B1 exit is the quickest way to Troy, officials said.State Police say a sport utility vehicle driven by Brandon Cooney of Watertown, Jefferson County, struck the LaPietras' Grand Marquis, causing it to burst into flames at about 1:35 p.m. Sunday.

Cooney and an unidentified passenger were injured in the crash, but the injuries were not life-threatening.Tuffey said there were no tickets issued and none are expected. LaPietra's family members could not be reached for comment Monday.The incident remains under investigation.The fire was extinguished by the South Schodack Fire Department. The Grand Marquis is nearly as notorious as the Crown Victoria for catching on fire after an accident.

Ford Motor Co. is installing a shield around the gas tanks of the some 400,000 Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, the choice of many police departments. Ford also makes the Police Interceptor civilian twins, Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car.According to the Center for Auto Safety there have been 13 fire-related deaths involving Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and 17 civilian deaths in the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car since 1993.