Three persons were killed in two separate crashes Wednesday on Western New York highways.
Two drivers from Wilson died after a three-vehicle collision just before 4 p.m. on Wilson-Burt Road in Niagara County, and a Clarendon man was killed when he was thrown from his pickup truck in a crash about 9 a.m. on Route 262 in Byron, Genesee County.
The victims in the Niagara County crash were identified as Ronald Zauner, 69; and Cathy World, 58; both of Wilson.
The driver of the third vehcile in the Wilson crash was identified as Frederick Lederhouse, 58, of Ransomville.
The victim in Genesee County was identified as Jerry Murray, 29.
Speed was being investigated as a factor in the three-vehicle crash on Wilson-Burt Road in Burt. “That distance [of the crash pattern] between 400 and 500 feet at the crash scene indicates the chance that there was speeding, plus the damage to the cars was catastrophic,” Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said.
According to a preliminary investigation, Lederhouse, in a large pickup truck, was driving eastbound in the 4800 block of Wilson-Burt Road, between Maple and North Beebe roads, when he rear-ended a tan Buick LeSabre, being driven by World, causing her car to cross over into the westbound lane and roll over, cross a ditch and land several feet off the road, according to Voutour.
World was removed from her car, but she died a short time later in Eastern Niagara Hospital in Newfane.
The force of the crash also caused the pickup to cross into the westbound lane, where it struck another vehicle, a blue four-door Saturn. The pickup struck the driver’s side of the westbound car, killing Zauner, said Voutour.
“It looked like he saw the accident coming at him and was pretty close to stopped when he was hit,” Voutour said.
While both cars were significantly damaged the ¾-ton pickup had only front-end damage, and the driver was conscious and able to walk away from the crash. He was treated at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Newfane for minor injuries, according to Voutour.
Voutour said sheriff investigators and the District Attorney’s Office were called to the hospital.
He said the crash was not alcohol-related, but investigators are looking at everything else.
“That’s why the accident investigation unit is here,” he said.
“If he was under the influence, this could be charged as a homicide, but speed alone is hard to charge.” he said. “But it’s not impossible. That’s why the [district attorney] is looking at this.”
Four volunteer fire departments, Wilson No. 1, South Wilson, Miller Hose and Olcott, assisted at the crash scene.
In the Genesee County crash, state police said Murray was killed when he was thrown from his pickup truck as it overturned after being struck by an SUV on Route 262 at Chapel Road.
Investigators said Murray was driving west on Route 262 when Terry Boyce, 57, of Alabama, turned left turn off Chapel Road and struck the pickup at the intersection.
Murray’s truck rolled over several times. He was declared dead at the scene from multiple injuries.
Boyce was issued a traffic ticket for failing to yield the right of way.