A drunken driver was charged in the early Wednesday morning crash that killed Daniel S. McParlane, police said, while others lamented the end of a promising political career of the young chairman of West Seneca Democrats.
Robert J. Styn, of West Seneca, no age or exact address given, was charged with driving while intoxicated and released.
Other than indicating that bad weather also may have contributed to the collision, West Seneca police would not answer any further questions.
Just hours before the crash at 12:10 a.m. on Indian Church Road, the 33-year-old McParlane attended a meeting of county Democratic leaders in Lackawanna and then later met Patrick B. Burke, the newly elected county legislator, at a South Buffalo tavern for a heart-to-heart talk about McParlane’s support for Burke’s underdog Democratic candidacy.
They talked about how political rookies like themselves would determine the course of the local Democratic Party, and why the future looked bright.
Burke figures he may have been the last person to see McParlane alive.
Burke said he liked the West Seneca chairman’s straight-forward approach to politics and government, and had hopes that McParlane’s leadership pointed to good things coming.
“There are a lot of sleazy people in politics,” said Burke, 29. “He was introspective and thoughtful. That’s why this is so tough.”
Earlier in the evening, McParlane, an Erie County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the holding center and county jail, had attended a Tuesday meeting of the Democratic Town Chairs Association in Curly’s Restaurant, Lackawanna.
That gathering featured its share of fireworks, but several of those attending the meeting said McParlane refused to join criticism of Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner, even though he had opposed him in the past.
McParlane didn’t want to continue the infighting, Burke said.
“He was trying to bring people together,” Burke said. “That’s really what he was thinking.”
The newly elected legislator, who so far has charted a course independent of party factions, said the two hoped to have influence in County Hall come January, even with a Republican majority guiding the Legislature.
“We thought about trying to bring the minority caucus together even if it meant giving up some political things,” Burke said. “His view also was that the next county chairman can’t be caught up in the current fighting.”
Burke’s feelings were echoed by many Wednesday after McParlane’s death.
West Seneca Supervisor Sheila W. Meegan said the loss of a young man who was involved in town leadership made Wednesday a “very, very sad day.”
“He was a great, great Democrat and a friend to so many,” the supervisor said. “My heart is broken.”
Thomas Diina, superintendent of the Jail Management Division of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, said McParlane was scheduled to return to work soon, following almost a year off the active roster as a result of a jailhouse injury suffered while breaking up a fight among inmates.
“He did exactly what he was supposed to do by getting in there and breaking it up,” Diina said, “and we had just talked about his preparations to come back.
“It’s a sad day for our family here,” he added.
Zellner also expressed his shock and sympathy.
“We’re deeply saddened by this,” he said. “He believed in his town and worked hard for his community.”
Burke said he was looking forward to his relationship with the town chairman and can’t seem to forget his resolve to end party infighting – expressed in some of the last words the two exchanged.
“He said it was going to be a terrific year,” Burke said.
A man identifying himself as Sean McParlane (the victim’s brother) in the comments section of buffalonews.com said his brother was returning from a late-night trip to the post office.
He did not return a call seeking comment.