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LOCKPORT – A wrongful death lawsuit was filed earlier this month on behalf of the two small children left behind by a Niagara Falls woman who was killed by a hit-and-run driver last year.

The suit was filed in State Supreme Court by the estate of Nicole Rodriguez against Francis A. Maikranz, the driver whose car struck and killed Rodriguez June 18, 2012.

Maikranz, 56, is serving a sentence of 16 months to four years for leaving the scene of a fatal accident without reporting. He’s in Groveland Correctional Facility, and his earliest possible parole date is May 28.

He ran down Rodriguez as she was crossing Hyde Park Boulevard near Jerauld Avenue. The 26-year-old victim died the next night in Erie County Medical Center without regaining consciousness. Maikranz wasn’t arrested until nine days after the accident.

Attorney Christopher J. O’Brien filed the suit on behalf of Rodriguez’s son, who is now 8, and her daughter, now 3.

According to Surrogate’s Court papers, Rodriguez was separated from her husband at the time of the collision, and her husband is not the biological father of either of the children. The girl is living with her biological father and the boy is living with his grandmother.

O’Brien said he is making arrangements to have Maikranz served with the lawsuit in prison. The car he was driving was owned by his mother.

“Insurance follows ownership. It’s GEICO Insurance Co., and we’ve been negotiating with them to pay the policy for the benefit of the children,” O’Brien said.

The car was insured for the New York State minimum of $50,000 for a death, he said. Another $25,000 is pending for the 8-year-old boy, who witnessed the accident, O’Brien said.

Niagara County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews is a party to the case in his role as public administrator of estates of those who, like Rodriguez, die without a will.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com