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FREDONIA TEACHER RECALLED FONDLY AFTER FIERY CRASH

The flag at the Fredonia Central School District was at half-staff Monday in memory of an elementary school art teacher, who died Sunday night in a fiery accident on the Thruway.

Alisha Kolet, 26, of Eagle Street, had been an elementary art teacher for Grades 3 through 5 since 1995, Superintendent James Coon said.

"Alisha had quite a spirit of confidence and creativity that came across to the students on a daily basis," Coon said. "She had a constant smile that affected everyone positively."

Ms. Kolet was pronounced dead at the scene after being pulled from her burning car by off-duty Investigator Kevin Kendall of the Clarence substation, state police said.

The accident occurred about 9:20 p.m., when a tractor-trailer, driven by Brian Kaltenbaugh of Fairport, slammed into the rear of Ms. Kolet's car.

Both vehicles burst into flames, and the tractor-trailer dragged the car off the right side of the highway, where the burning vehicles struck an embankment. The car then struck a tree and partially turned over.

No charges have been filed, pending further investigation. The accident report showed no serious injury to Kaltenbaugh, although it was unclear whether he suffered any injury.

State police blocked nearby entrance ramps for several hours after the crash, which occurred on the westbound Thruway between Exits 50 and 51. The far right lane of the westbound Thruway remained closed through Monday morning as the vehicles were being removed.

School officials called in an emergency response team, including counselors and therapists. Coon said that students' parents, friends and others who knew Ms. Colet also called the school to offer counseling assistance.

Ms. Kolet received bachelor's and master's degrees from Alfred University.

News Chautauqua Correspondent Norma Braude contributed to this article.

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