Broome Sheriff: Man Uses Shovel to Slow Dirtbiker, Who Then Crashes and Dies


UPDATED: On Tuesday, August 18 About 6:43 p.m., Broome County Sheriff’s Office patrols responded to an area of Airport Road in the Town of Union for a report of several individuals creating a disturbance by performing ‘burn-outs’ on Airport Road. Upon the arrival of uniformed patrols, they spoke with 24-year-old Cameron Fortner who witnesses state was burning out in the street in a Chevrolet Suburban. While being interviewed, Fortner made threats of shooting the deputies, played loud music and was generally uncooperative. At that time Fortner was issued traffic tickets for three violations to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law for insufficient stop lamps, cracked windshield and a loud exhaust. He was directed to appear in the Town of Union Court at a later time.

A short time later the same deputies observed Fortner perform a ‘burn-out’ in the street. As a result, Fortner was issued an additional appearance ticket for disorderly conduct. Sheriff’s Office personnel were summoned to the area a third time about 9:12 p.m. for similar behavior of burn-outs in the street as well as individuals riding unregistered dirtbikes causing a disturbance with local residents. It was at that time when the accident occurred involving a dirtbike operated by Cameron Fortner and a local resident on Airport Road, 48-year-old John Hughes.


While checking the area on Airport Road, a patrol officer observed a male riding a small off-road dirtbike commonly referred to as a ‘pit bike’ on Airport Road. Minutes later the operator of the dirtbike struck a full-size van that was parked, unoccupied, on the side of the roadway. As a result of the collision, Cameron Fortner was ejected off the dirtbike onto the road. A patrol was a short distance away and observed the collision. The deputy immediately assessed Fortner and found him to be unconscious and not breathing. She began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

A subsequent investigation revealed that a male, identified as John Hughes, saw the dirtbike traveling on the street prior to the collision. In an effort to slow the dirtbike down, Hughes entered the roadway with a shovel and extended the shovel in a horizontal manner in an attempt to force the motorcycle to the side of the roadway, however, Fortner swerved around Hughes. As Fortner passed, Hughes threw the shovel in the direction of the dirtbiker. After swerving past Hughes, Fortner struck a full-size, parked van. The impact caused significant injuries to Fortner. He was transported to UHS Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Hughes was charged with Manslaughter in the 2nd degree, a class C felony. He was transported to the Broome County Sheriff’s Office Correctional facility for arraignment.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Any person with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the Broome County Sheriff’s Office.