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Funeral set for man found dead in snowbound car

Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 25, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-20 12:56:52-05

Funeral arrangements have been announced for Donald Abate, who was found dead in his car late last Tuesday.

A wake will be held for the 46-year-old Blasdell man on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the O’Connell-Murphy Funeral Home on South Park Avenue. He will be laid to rest Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Charity Parish (St. Ambrose Worship Site) and later interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Abate was found dead inside his vehicle, which had been buried under feet of snow, in a ditch near the intersection of Broadway and Two Rod Road in Alden. His family says he repeatedly called emergency workers and thought help was on the way but it arrived too late.

Jackie Abate fought back tears as she shared the story of her devastating loss, "I lost the love of my life. I'm so sorry for his parents to go through this. I'm so sorry," she cried.

You could hear all of the anguish in her voice of a grieving wife, now a widow.

"At 2:30 am he knew he was in trouble. At 2:30 in the morning on Tuesday morning he knew he was in trouble and he called AAA then," his mother Mary Ann Abate exclaimed.

Donald was a corrections officer and had been in constant communication with his family after he left his job at the federal detention facility in Batavia around midnight early Tuesday morning.

He knew the Thruway was closed and was taking the streets to get back to his Blasdell home. But the weather conditions were so intense Donald sought shelter in a bay at the car wash on Broadway.

He tried to wait out the storm but with the relentless snow he decided to leave the car wash and head to a Tops store he passed while driving.

Tragically, the former 911 dispatcher never got far. As he attempted to drive out of the car wash's driveway his black KIA SUV fell into a ditch and he couldn't get out."

And he can't open the doors. He can't open the doors of the car and it's becoming more difficult to see because the car is starting to be buried," said his mother Mary Ann.

Donald, his wife and parents frantically called AAA, the Erie County Sheriff's Office, New York State troopers and 911, by then Donald's car was hidden under 15 feet of snow.

"We did ask him, 'Do you have anything to eat in the car?'  He said, 'I got some candy bars.'  He says, 'Mom don't worry. I got some candy bars. I'll be ok, I'll be okay.'"

That phone call was nearly 12 hours after Donald became stuck and that would be his final contact with his family.

"When he didn't answer his phone and texts I knew something was wrong, I knew it," said his wife Jackie.

His family says AAA was headed to rescue him but they were turned away by authorities because of the driving ban.

Other emergency workers and neighbors in the area say they never saw his vehicle hidden under the blanket of snow.

The family begged authorities to use the pings from his cell phone to find him but say they were brushed off.

Later, authorities did end up using GPS technology from all those phone calls for help from Donald's cell to locate him, buried in his car, dead.

He leaves behind his wife and two children.