Victims in fatal I-24 crash found at bottom of icy embankment

Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 8:20pm
Staff reports

Metro police suspect alcohol was a contributing factor in a fatal early morning crash on Interstate 24 north of downtown Nashville.

One New York woman is dead and two Fort Campbell men are in critical condition after the driver of a Chevrolet Trailblazer lost control of the SUV at 2:25 a.m. Sunday and struck the left and right interstate retaining walls.

The three rear passengers were ejected through the back hatch window – two of them landed on a cement incline and slid to the shoulder of Briley Parkway below, police said.

Jennifer Gramaldi, 33, of New York, died shortly after arriving at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Elias Rivera, 30, of Fort Campbell, is in critical condition at VUMC. They were both found on the side of Briley Parkway.

The third ejected passenger, Michael Lesnink, 27, of Ft. Campbell, is also in critical condition at Vanderbilt, police said.

The driver of the Trailblazer, believed to be Kevin Ruggiero, 31, of Ft. Campbell, was not seriously hurt, nor was the person believed to be the front seat passenger, Michael Witner, 21, of Ft. Campbell, police said.

The investigation is continuing and criminal charges are pending.