81N crash victim: 'Maybe he could have just hit me'

By Jillian Marshall

May 30, 2014 Updated May 30, 2014 at 6:19 PM EDT

Brooktonville, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The woman who was sideswiped just moments before a trooper was killed speaks out on the lasting effects of the tragic day.

Dorene Hornbrook-Relyea was driving on Interstate 81 north in her orange Aztec on Thursday when a truck ran her off the highway. She was driving to Brooktonville from Binghamton.

Almond Upton, 60, of Melrose, Fla., was charged with first-degree murder for intentionally hitting and killing New York State Trooper Christopher Skinner Thursday afternoon on I-81.

But just seconds before he fatally hit Skinner, he ran multiple cars off the road. One of them was Hornbrook-Relyea's.

"I close my eyes and I hear, I just hear the rumble strip and I hear the truck," Hornbrook-Relyea said.

When Upton sideswiped her in his 2014 white Ford pickup truck, Hornbrook-Relyea had her arm out the window; the crash took the skin off part of her arm.

She also suffered major bruising on her hips, ribs and back because the side driver's door crashed into her.

"No broken bones, thank God. I'm glad I'm alive, but there's still the ‘could I have done something different where he couldn't have gone farther and killed somebody else?’ That was the hard part," Hornbrook-Relyea said.

On Friday afternoon, the Tompkins County native said she hasn't slept since the crash and is fighting the questions she has in her head.

"I'm so confused, I'm sad. But I'm blessed that I'm alive, but I'd like to tell them (Skinner's family) that I am so sorry and I wish that I could've, if I hadn't have swerved maybe he could have just hit me and it would have stopped him from going any farther." Hornbrook-Relyea said.

Upton was arraigned Thursday night and charged with first-degree murder for intentionally hitting and killing Trooper Skinner. So far, there have been no charges for hitting the other vehicles.

Hornbrook-Relyea's Aztec is currently at the state police barracks for investigation. The two people in the other cars had minor injuries.

Hornbrook-Relyea said she wants to attend Skinner's funeral to pay her respects to him and his family.

As far as getting back on the highway, she said she is not sure when or if she will ever be able to.

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