The Lancaster man who struck and killed a Depew teenager as she waited at a village bus stop has been charged with reckless driving and three traffic violations in the July incident.
Radames Candelaria, 35, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Depew Village Court on the misdemeanor count, as well as speeding, failure to keep right and driving on a sidewalk, after an Erie County grand jury did not indict him on more serious charges in the death of Ashley Creighton, 18.
Candelaria told police investigators, and The Buffalo News in a recent interview, that he lost control of his sport utility vehicle and went off the road, crashing into Creighton and, later, a pizzeria on the other side of the road, after falling asleep at the wheel.
“Our position, and it has been his from day one, is that this was an accident and not criminal conduct,” Thomas J. Eoannou, Candelaria’s attorney, said following the arraignment before Village Justice Gordon Willis.
The crash occurred July 30, as Candelaria was driving home on Broadway following an overnight work shift.
Creighton, a Depew High School senior, was waiting on the north side of Broadway near South Kokomo Street to catch a bus for a doctor’s appointment that morning.
Candelaria’s SUV drove onto the sidewalk and smashed into Creighton, killing her instantly, before drifting across to the other side of Broadway and smashing into Penora’s Pizza.
He told police investigators he didn’t remember anything about the crash until he woke up after his SUV came to a halt in the restaurant.
Candelaria told The News that he had a low level of methadone in his system, part of his treatment for a heroin addiction, but not enough to impair his driving. Candelaria has a lengthy history of minor crimes, which he blamed on his former drug habit, but said in the interview he has been clean since the birth of his oldest daughter three years ago.
Eoannou emphasized Candelaria’s cooperation with investigators and his remorse for Creighton’s death.
Police never charged Candelaria, and Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III opted to submit the evidence in the case for review by a grand jury. Because grand jurors didn’t indict on a more serious charge, the case was returned to Village Court.
Candelaria was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning, but he did not show up to court and Willis issued a bench warrant at the request of prosecutor Kelley A. Omel.
“This case did result in the death of a young girl,” Omel said at the morning hearing.
Candelaria contacted the court later in the morning, and Eoannou blamed the lapse on a miscommunication.
Willis set bail at $7,500 bond or $2,500 cash. Candelaria next must appear in court Jan. 16.