Niagara Falls, NY (WKBW-TV)
At 3:15 a.m. Saturday, the driver of a Ford Explorer blew through a stop sign, lost control of his SUV, and struck a utility pole, flipping the vehicle upside down. The one-car collision happened on Cayuga Drive and 91st Street in Niagara Falls where neighbors say people always run through stop signs.
"It's just too bad that it had to happen, but it was bound to happen sooner or later," said Theresa Bundy, who lives a few houses down from the scene of the wreck.
There were six people in the SUV. Investigators believe they had all been drinking. The driver, 32-year-old Charles Jameson of Niagara Falls and two passengers, managed to get out of the vehicle, but three other passengers were still trapped inside when the first responding officer arrived on the scene.
Then the story takes another horrible turn. One of the escaped passengers, Taylor Watts of Sanborn, started arguing with the officer, preventing him from helping those still trapped inside.
"After being told numerous, numerous times to back away from the car and let the police officer do his duty, the policeman just couldn't do anything until he arrested him so he put him in handcuffs, arrested him, and he then went to provide aid to the others still in the car," said Captain Salvatore Pino, of the Niagara Falls Police department.
While the officer was distracted, the driver fled the scene on foot. It took the officer several minutes to even realize the driver escaped. But investigators staked out his house, his girlfriend's house, and his relatives' home and eventually arrested him an hour-and-a half later at the relatives house.
Back at the scene, emergency responders were able to remove two females from the car, they were taken to ECMC with serious injuries. The remaining male passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police have not released the names of everyone involved, but the driver, who himself suffered a broken collar bone, has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, DWI, Reckless Driving, Passing a Stop Sign, and Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident. Police say additional charges are pending which may include some of the other passengers.