1 officer dies, 1 hurt as car hits tree
News Staff Reporter

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DEREK GEE/Buffalo News
This police cruiser struck a tree while turning from Delaware Avenue onto Bryant Street on Wednesday night in pursuit of a burglary suspect.
A Buffalo police officer was killed, and his partner was seriously injured, when their patrol car slammed head-on into a tree Wednesday night.
It was the second fatal accident involving a local police officer in as many days. Tuesday, a Cheektowaga detective died in an accident that occurred during his lunch break.

Wednesday night in Buffalo, a patrol car from the Northwest District slammed into a tree on the east side of Delaware Avenue, just south of Bryant Street. Both officers, tentatively identified only as a 35-year-old man who was driving and a 30-year-old woman, had to be cut out of the wreckage.

A doctor who works at nearby Children's Hospital reportedly tried to help the driver, who suffered multiple injuries. Both victims were taken to Erie County Medical Center, where the driver was pronounced dead.

The woman police officer was said to have suffered injuries that include a broken hip. Preliminary reports from authorities at the accident scene indicated that she was unconscious and that her partner was slipping in and out of consciousness when rescue workers arrived.

Buffalo police officials said late Wednesday that the accident occurred as the officers were pursuing a burglary suspect and trying to turn left onto Bryant. The names of the officers involved were withheld by police.

The crash deeply creased the patrol car's hood and sent debris flying forward several yards. An accident investigator walked his supervisor through the scene late Wednesday, pointing out skid marks and other evidence along the way.

Though the accident happened shortly after 8 p.m., a stretch of Delaware Avenue remained closed late into night.

Tuesday afternoon, Detective Wasyl Potienko of Cheektowaga's Juvenile Unit died after his unmarked police car was hit by a recycling truck and spun into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. That crash, which happened on Broadway near Lackawanna Street, remains under investigation by town police and the Erie County Sheriff's Department.

The last death of an on-duty Cheektowaga police officer had occurred 25 years ago. The last suffered by the Buffalo Police Department occurred in February 1998, when Officer Robert McLellan of the former Genesee Station was hit by a car as he chased a suspect across the Kensington Expressway in the pre-dawn darkness.

The man whom McLellan was chasing eventually was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the officer's death.