Isabel Glasseter in her room at Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Center in Delmar. Tricia Cremo/Spotlight
BETHLEHEM — Bad things can happen to good people. Isabel Glasseter learned this lesson after being involved in a car crash that took the life of a woman on an snowy, spring morning.
On Monday, April 4, at about 10:30 a.m., Ashley C. Taheri, 55, of Voorheesville, was driving on Route 155 in Guilderland when she lost control of her vehicle and flew into the opposite lane of traffic, according to Guilderland Police. Glassetter was driving her son to work when Taheri’s car swerved into her lane. The resulting crash took the life of Taheri, a social worker who had worked as a mental health clinician with the New York City Fire Department after 9/11. Glasseter was left with two broken ankles, bruises and a heart heavy with unfounded guilt.
Glassestter has spent most of her life – over 25 years – protecting children from cars as the longtime crossing guard at Elsmere Elementary School. She has sustained a few minor on injuries on the job, when distracted drivers failed to notice her bright orange vest and handheld stop sign as she halts traffic on busy Delaware Avenue. But, never had Glasseter been in a crash as serious as the one she was in that day.
“I feel incredibly bad for the other family involved. I’m devastated that it even happened,” said Glasseter when asked about the crash. “I’ve been trying to find the words to write the family a note, but I just haven’t found the words yet.” The memory of the crash is one she will hold with her forever, she said.
Glasseter will spend several weeks recovering at Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Center in Delmar. She will then spend the next several months in a wheelchair and attend physical therapy classes regularly. In order for her to get in and out of her home, a ramp will need to be built. In order to help the family with these costs, an online account has been made to benefit Glasseter.
“She has yet to stop crying. She wants to be home, and now it could be months,” said Jennifer Hammond, Glassetter’s daughter. Just like her mother, Hammond also works as a crossing guard locally at Eagle Elementary. For both, the job has served them well over the years, and allowed them enough time to raise their children. Glasseter and her husband, Donald, have six children and 14 grandchildren.
In her room at Good Samaritan, Glasseter is surrounded by flowers and dozens of letters from children, who colorfully wish her a speedy recovery. As the crossing guard for so many years, Glasseter has become a face that generations of parents and children have grown to trust. She now helps the children whose parents she once helped many years ago.
“They’re all really good kids,” she said warmly. Glasseter has countless stories from her many years on the job, like the time she used her stop sign to help a boy dig out a boot that had gotten lodged in the snow on his way to school.
As the news broke of Glasseter’s hospital stay, a past student, Carrie Holligan Smith, took to Facebook to share one such story.
“My childhood wouldn’t have been the same without Ms. Glasseter,” Smith wrote. “As my elementary school crossing guard, she began and ended each day with her sweet smiling face guiding me to safety.” And, Smith said, Glasseter was the only person to stop on a snowy night to rescue Smith’s sister, who had veered off 9W into a ditch. Glasseter pulled her from the vehicle and returned her home in an act of heroism.
Along with her job as a crossing guard, Glasseter has also volunteered as an EMS responder for three decades. It not only is a way for her to give back to her community but also an opportunity to spend more time with her husband, who volunteers with Elsmere Fire Department. At first Glasseter tried to volunteer for the fire company itself, but, “it was 30 years ago, they weren’t ready for a husband/wife team,” she explained.
So, Glasseter joined Bethlehem EMS, and not only became the very first social member of the Elsmere Fire Department, but also the first female Life Member of Bethlehem EMS, the department’s highest honor. She later volunteered for Delmar EMS as well and spent numerous hours with both departments, before they merged in 2013.
She continues to serve as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for the Elsmere Fire Department. She plans to return to work by next year.
To donate to Isabel Glasseter, visit www.gofundme.com/3yy5ayyk