The driver of the car that plunged onto the inbound Kensington Expressway early Saturday morning had refused to stop for an NFTA police vehicle, whose officer had noticed the car and another vehicle drag racing on Main Street moments before the deadly crash.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officer who tried to conduct a traffic stop gave up the effort when the BMW driven by Kevin W. Brown started driving even faster on Woodlawn Avenue, heading toward the Humboldt Parkway guardrail beside the expressway, authorities said.
Brown, 47, of nearby Winslow Avenue, crashed through the guardrail, and his car exploded into flames when it landed on its roof atop a concrete Jersey barrier separating the inbound and outbound lanes of the expressway shortly after 1:15 a.m. Brown died in the crash.
The NFTA patrol car was one of two transit police vehicles that inadvertently become involved in trying to stop the two racing vehicles, according to authorities.
Initially, the NFTA officers were responding to a call to break up a fight on East Utica Street near Main Street when the officers heard gunshots.
The officers headed in their police cars onto Main Street, where they saw the vehicles racing.
Investigators said they believe that Brown challenged the 19-year-old driver of the other vehicle – a Lexus – to race him.
One the fast-moving vehicles almost struck one of the patrol cars, according to NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer.
“The officer in that police car turned on his lights and siren, made a U-turn, and started following the car that nearly struck the police car in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop,” Hartmayer said.
The other officer followed the second car, and at about the same time, the BMW turned onto East Ferry Street, then onto Otis Place and finally onto Woodlawn.
When Brown increased his acceleration on Woodlawn, the NFTA officer disengaged from trying to stop that vehicle, police said.
The other NFTA police car succeeded in stopping the Lexus, and that driver is expected to be charged once the Erie County District Attorney’s Office completes its review of the case. The second driver’s identity has not yet been released.
As of late Monday, the NFTA was still conducting an internal investigation of the police response, Hartmayer said.
“When all the facts are in, all the material will be reviewed, and any decisions that need to be made going forward will be made once all the information is reviewed,” Hartmayer said.
The NFTA investigation, he added, is being conducted in conjunction with the Buffalo Police Department’s Accident Investigation Unit, the lead agency in the crash review.