Sheriff's Deputy In Critical Condition After Crash

July 18, 2011 Updated Jul 18, 2011 at 8:20 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

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July 18, 2011 Updated Jul 18, 2011 at 8:20 PM EDT

TOWN OF PORTER, NY (WKBW) -- 36 year old Allen Gerhardt is a husband, father of three children, and a Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy. While on patrol late Sunday night in the Town of Porter, he crashed into a guard rail on Lake Road near Ransomville Road. He was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) for serious injuries. "I was able to speak with him, he was conscious and alert," Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour said. "He's in an induced coma right now. He has severe injuries... they have him stabilized but they are going to have to do several surgeries within the next couple days."

Deputy Gerhardt was in critical condition in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at ECMC in an induced coma late Monday. Officials say he has had many loved ones come and visit him in the hospital, including many people from the sheriff's office. Specific details about his injuries aren't being released at this time.

Officials do say Deputy Gerhardt was responding to a DWI accident close by, where suspect Todd Hauser fled on foot after allegedly crashing his car into an unoccupied parked vehicle in the area of Youngstown-Lockport Road and Ransomville Road in Ransomville. After an area search the Lewiston Police, who were assisting, located the male suspect and arrested Hauser for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. He was released on bail and scheduled to appear in Porter Town Court this week.

Deputy Gerhardt was called to the accident for backup but he crashed before he could make it to the scene.

Deputy Gerhardt joined the county sheriff's office in 2008. He was a parks police officer with New York State before joining the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. He's also a pilot with the New York Army National Guard and is an Iraq war combat veteran. "We have a hero here, this is a guy who served a full year in iraq, he flew over 300 combat missions as a combat pilot, in the most intense fighting in Iraq at that time in 06' and 07'. Unfortunately something happens like this right on American soil, so he's a hero to all of us, he was a hero before this accident and he remains a hero," Sheriff Voutour said.

Deputy Allen Gerhardt grew up in Newfane and attended Newfane middle and high schools, graduating in 1993. He played football and was also on the wrestling team. "I've know Allen since he was in high school, his mom works here at the school as a cook in the high school cafeteria, his dad was a bus driver for us," Christine Tibbetts, Superintendent of Newfane Central Schools, said. "My son wrestled with Allen when he was a teenager and Allen was just one of the super stars. He was just well respected, it's a well respected family all around and obviously our hearts go out to Allen and his wife and children... his parents and we are certainly all praying for a speedy recovery for Allen. He's always going to do whatever it takes to help others."

Investigators are looking into what may have caused the deputy to go off the road.

Meantime, Niagara County Legislator Paul Wojtaszek, who chairs the Legislature's Community Safety and Security Committee, issued the following statement about the serious accident. "First, I want to extend the best wishes and prayers of the Niagara County Legislature for a speedy recovery to Deputy Gerhardt.... Niagara County stands behind the men and women who wear the uniform of our Sheriff's Office. We trust that Sheriff Voutour will conduct a full investigation, and that Sheriff's Office procedures in the time leading up to the accident will receive full scrutiny by the Sheriff as well as the Community Safety and Security Committee."