The doctor convicted of drunken driving in the death of an Amherst teenager landed in the hospital Thursday, after the car in which he was riding was struck by a 17-year-old Amherst girl who was arrested for drunken driving.
Dr. James G. Corasanti, 58, suffered a minor back injury, and his secretary, who was driving a 2012 Smart Car, suffered a head injury that required stitches, when the teenager rear-ended their vehicle with her 2002 Volvo at about 11:15 a.m. on the eastbound Kensington Expressway at the Thruway interchange in Cheektowaga, according to police.
Corasanti was convicted last year of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated in the July 2011 crash that killed 18-year-old Alexandria “Alix” Rice, who was on her longboard heading home late at night from her job at a pizzeria. The gastroenterologist’s BMW struck her on Heim Road in Getzville. He was found not guilty of more serious felony charges, including manslaughter but was sent to jail for the DWI conviction.
After serving two-thirds of his one-year sentence, the Getzville resident was released from custody in April and resumed practicing medicine.
Jodi Clark, the doctor’s secretary, was transported in an ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, where she was treated and later released, authorities said.
Corasanti was driven by a friend to Buffalo General Medical Center after complaining of a back injury, according to police. He also was later released.
The teenage driver was uninjured. Her name was withheld because she may qualify for youthful-offender status, police said.
This latest incident involving drivers, alcohol and Corasanti is yet another development in a case that outraged many in the community when the jury in his trial acquitted him of the felony charges.
Two of the jurors were charged with drunken driving, one during the trial, the other this past April.
“It is not so much irony in my opinion, but it shows how rampant driving while intoxicated is and what a big problem driving while intoxicated continues to be,” Cheektowaga Police Capt. James J. Speyer Jr. said.
“When you take into account that this young girl was drunk at 11:15 in the morning on a Thursday, it makes you wonder how big the problem really is.”
The accused teenager had a 0.12 percent blood alcohol content, Speyer said; 0.08 percent is the legal threshold for drunken driving.
Her vehicle passed a tractor-trailer on the right side in what is an exit lane to the Thruway and then crashed into Clark’s car, which was in front of the truck, Speyer said.
Cheektowaga Police Chief David J. Zack said he has received information from county officials stating that convictions for driving while intoxicated have been decreasing because of reluctance by judges.
“We’re hearing that convictions in Erie County are way down but that DWI arrests are not,” Zack said.
“What we are seeing continually is judges not convicting, and that is a problem. We’re being told that judges are less inclined to convict.”
The 17-year-old also was charged with reckless driving, unsafe lane change, passing on the right, and imprudent speed.
She was issued appearance tickets and released into the custody of her mother.