Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Back in January 2004, while driving on an elevated section of Interstate 81, former East Syracuse Mayor Jason Rhoades was killed after he lost control of his SUV, vaulted over an angled snowbank on the side of the road and crashed 30 feet below.
And although New York State created the dangerous conditions while plowing, the DOT was never notified of how dangerous it was in order to fix it.
Rhoades left behind his wife Isabelle and two children.
Isabelle told NewsChannel 9 Wednesday she’s happy the state is finally being held responsible, but it won’t bring Jason back.
"And as a result of these unsafe conditions, you know my husband lost his life and Mr. Gardner lost his and his kids are growing up without their parents, and that's a shame. That's not right,” Isabelle said.
Just two days after Rhoades’ accident, it happened again. This time 50-year-old William Gardner, who was in town on business, lost his life on the same stretch of road.
In both cases the State Court of Claims ruled that New York State was not at fault. But last year, a state appeals court overturned the decision as it relates to Gardner -- and on Wednesday -- it did the same for Rhoades.
"You know, you tell yourself you don't want to get your hopes up and you hope that the right decision will be made,” Isabelle continued.
In the days following both crashes, the state removed much of the snow plowed up against the guardrail.
In 2001, at age 25, Rhoades became the youngest mayor ever elected in East Syracuse. Before that, he was a village trustee and a member of the school board as a teenager.
In 2004, he was concentrating on his career at Cornell and his young family.
"He was absolutely happy where he was, happy where he was, happy with life,” Isabelle said.
Wednesday’s decision means Rhoades’ case will be reinstated and sent back for trial to determine just how much New York State owes in damages.