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Pilot killed in Cattaraugus County Wednesday was well-known former flight instructor at GC Airport

By Virginia Kropf

A pilot killed in a small plane crash Wednesday at Great Valley Airport in Cattaraugus County was well known at the Genesee County Airport.

William Mandelare, of Brockport, a former flight instructor at Genesee County Airport, died in the crash, which seriously injured Raymond Groetsch, also of Brockport. Groetsch, who also frequently flew in and out of Genesee County Airport, is reported in critical condition. 

Mandelare, 80, was an experienced pilot who taught Batavia flight instructor Pete Lockner and gave him his commercial license in 1982, Lockner said this morning. 

Jeff and Carol Boshart, who own the aircraft maintenance shop at Genesee County Airport, also knew Mandelare well.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of such an enthusiastic member of the aviation community,” Carol said. “Bill used to often hang out at the airport and talked to all the pilots here. He taught tons of people to fly, many of them out of Genesee County.”

Lockner is also saddened by the news. He said Mandelare retired in 1982 as a mechanical drawing teacher in the Greece School District. He came to Genesee County Airport to be a flight instructor for Dick Drilling, who ran the airport at the time.

Initially, authorities were uncertain as to who was flying the plane, but it is now reported that Groetsch told authorities he was the pilot.

Mandelare, who was a short man, was known as “Little Bill” to his friends. Lockner speculates that his diminutiveness could have contributed to the crash which killed him; he may not have been able, as copilot, to reach over and commandeer the plane once trouble was apparent.

Lockner speculated as to what could have happened.

He said Mandelare always used a little seat when flying so he could reach the pedals, and that when in a plane, he always insisted on riding right seat. If he wasn’t flying the plane and didn’t have his seat, he it is unlikely he would have been unable to assist the pilot in an emergency, Lockner guessed.

Lockner described the Cessna 177 Cardinal as a tricky plane to fly. That model has a stabilator in the horizontal tail, rather than an elevator. That means when landing, the plane as to be put in a nose-up position to adjust the pitch.

If the pilot forgot to readjust the pitch when taking off, the plane could have been in too sharp a nose-up position, causing it to stall. When a plane stalls, the left wing always drops and hits the ground first, and then cartwheels, which is what it appears happened in Mandelare’s case. 

Lockner himself has been flying since 1981 and has been giving flight instruction since 1986, so is familiar with the configuration of many aircraft.

Serious 18-wheeler crash in Le Roy leaves one seriously injured

By Geoff Redick

A tractor-trailer rear-ended one vehicle, rolled and slammed into another today on Route 19 in Le Roy, seriously injuring one driver.

The truck was driven by 44-year-old Howard Mcintyre, of Vestal, and was hauling a gravel product from Dolomite Aggregates in Le Roy. Mcintyre was northbound, going over the I-90 overpass, when a red 2008 Mazda driven by 22-year-old Gregory Wodzicki slowed in front of him.

Mcintyre was unable to stop his truck and rammed the Mazda, forcing it off the roadway. Then as he tried to correct, his wheels caught a deep culvert on the west side of Route 19. The truck flipped and landed on its side, skidding long-side-first down the roadway.

That's when 55-year-old Patricia Ireland, southbound in a 2006 Chevrolet Impala was struck. Ireland's car took the brunt impact of the flying stone product and the swinging trailer. Her vehicle's front end was destroyed and the car pushed back about 150 feet.

Ireland became entrapped in her mangled vehicle and had to be extricated. Le Roy Fire Chief Mike Sheflin estimates the extrication took roughly 12 minutes from responders' time of arrival. Ireland was Mercy Flighted to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with serious injuries. 

Meanwhile, the truck partially left the roadway and burst into flames. Mcintyre was able to escape the flaming wreckage, but suffered internal injuries. He was taken to Strong via ground ambulance.

The driver of the Mazda, Wodzicki, and his passenger, 23-year-old Jason Hightower, both of Rush, suffered minor injuries and were transported via ambulance to Strong.

No charges have been filed. The investigation continues this afternoon. Route 19 was closed for about four hours, but has been re-opened.

CLICK HERE for video coverage from WBTA News.

Rear-ender on Route 98 results in minor injuries

By Geoff Redick

Two drivers from Holley, Orleans County, collided on Oak Orchard Road/Route 98 in Batavia this afternoon.

Doris Lusk, 78, was operating her Subaru Forester northbound on Route 98 when she slowed to allow another driver to make a left-hand turn into a driveway. Robert Blosenhauer, 63, was also northbound in a Jeep Wrangler and failed to stop. He rammed into the rear of Lusk's vehicle.

Both were able to exit the roadway safely. No serious injuries were reported.

Blosenhauer was charged with failure to yield following too closely.

Trooper Mark Catenzaro responded along with Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS.

Evening crash in city leaves two drivers with minor injuries

By Geoff Redick

A near head-on collision Wednesday night in Batavia resulted in both drivers being transported to UMMC for treatment.

According to Batavia Police Lt. Eugene Jankowski, a 1994 Dodge driven by 17-year-old Mariah Gaudy, of Batavia, was westbound on East Main Street at about 8:34 p.m. Gaudy apparently attempted a left-hand turn onto Harvester Avenue, but turned into the path of an eastbound 2006 Chevrolet, driven by 30-year-old Katrina Flint, of Le Roy.

The two vehicles collided. Gaudy suffered an arm injury and was taken to UMMC by a friend. Flint had a complaint of pain and was transported by ambulance to UMMC.

Flint's three children were with her in the car. A 9-year-old girl complained of a minor back injury but was not taken for treatment. Two boys, ages 7 and 11, were not injured.

Gaudy was charged for failing to yield the right-of-way.

Batavia man involved in serious crash in Wyoming County

By WBTA News

One man is in critical condition today after the car he was riding in collided with a tow truck driven by a Batavia man.

On Monday, 24-year-old Jacob A. Staskiewicz of Batavia-Bethany Townline Road was apparently driving a tow truck on Maxon Road for A.J.'s Tow Service of Attica. Wyoming County Sheriff's deputies say Staskiewicz failed to stop for a sign at the intersection with Route 20A. He drove into the path of a 2008 Buick driven by 49-year-old Michael J. Lauber of Buffalo.

Lauber's backseat passenger, 62-year-old Richard A. Kosha, sustained serious head trauma in the ensuing collision. He was Mercy Flighted to Erie County Medical Center and is in critical condition today.

Lauber and his front-seat passenger, 59-year-old Garrick D. James, were taken by ambulance to ECMC for neck and arm pain.

Jacob Staskiewicz was not injured in the crash. He has been issued a traffic summons for alleged failure to stop at a stop sign.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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Minor injuries reported at two-car crash on Route 5 in Batavia: Updated

By Philip Anselmo

Minor injuries were reported at the scene of a two-car collision on Route 5 near Prole Road in Batavia. Both cars looked pretty well banged up, and extra crews had to come out from LeRoy to help at the scene, according to dispatch reports. We will pass on the details when they become available.

Update (3:15 p.m.): Two people were taken to the hospital following this crash earlier today. The details are as follows:

Julie L. Conover, 40, of Corfu, was driving along Route 5 heading out of Batavia in the passing lane. Robert L. Tullar, 61, of Batavia, was stopped waiting to make a turn onto a driveway. Conover told deputies that she never saw Tullar's vehicle and ended up colliding into it.

Conover and Tullar were both taken to United Memorial Medical Center. Conover was evaluated for a complaint of shoulder pain. Tullar was taken in with complaints of neck pain.

No tickets were issued.

Tractor trailer rollover on Thruway in Batavia — Updated with video

By Philip Anselmo

BATAVIA , N.Y. — Reports are coming through over the scanner. A tractor trailer has rolled over in the westbound lanes of the Thruway in Batavia, near the Lewiston Road Bridge. Multiple vehicles are believed to be involved in the crash. All available crews are being called to the scene, and Mercy Flight has been placed on standby.

We will provide more details as they become available.

Update (12:11 p.m.): The tractor trailer has rolled over into the median and three other vehicles are involved in the crash. Traffic is still moving westbound on the Thruway at this time.

Update (12:43 p.m.): Visibility at the scene of the crash is reduced nearly to nothing. From nowhere on Lewiston Road were we able to get a clear site on the crash scene. Whipping winds kicking up snow blotted out most of the scene. We were able to shoot a few seconds of video that show the traffic moving at a crawl heading westbound and just barely trickling through eastbound. The overturned trailer could barely be made out in the median. No other vehicles could be scene from the overpass.

We're still waiting on reports of injuries. Emergency crews on scene did report a slight leak coming from the tractor trailer. That was not identified, but it was reported to be contained.

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One injured in Lewiston Road crash

By Philip Anselmo

Jennifer Lutz, 35, of Gasport, was driving on Lewiston Road in the town of Alabama Wednesday evening when she lost control of her vehicle due to slippery road conditions, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. She then crossed over the center line and crashed into a car in the oncoming lane. Jessica L. Taylor, 20, of Medina, was the driver of the other vehicle, which contained three other passengers.

Twenty-four-year-old Christopher J. Doxey was the only person in the car who had to be taken to the hospital. He was transported to Medina Memorial Hospital to be treated for pain in his abdomen.

No other injuries were reported. No tickets were issued.

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Updates on crash of Flight 3407 include names of some passengers

By Philip Anselmo

Buffalo News reporters have been updating the site all day with updates on the crash of Continental Flight 3407 that plummeted onto a home in Clarence. Names of passengers have been leaking out throughout the day, and reporters have got up a video of eyewitness accounts.

Names of the dead began trickling out at midday, giving a window onto the group of passengers aboard the flight from Newark to Buffalo that crashed at about 10:15 p.m.

The names of victims emerging from families and friends included Alison DeForges, a noted historian and human rights activist who documented the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Also killed in the crash was Susan Wehle, cantor at Temple Beth Am in Amherst, and Zhaofang Guo, the husband of Dr. Ping Wang at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

In addition, the black boxes from the flight have been recovered, and the investigation into the cause of the crash has begun in earnest.

Clarence crash: Coverage roundup

By Philip Anselmo

Identities of the victims of the crash of Continental Flight 3407 are not yet being released, but many are believed to be inhabitants of Western New York.

We put together this roundup of news coverage.

From the Buffalo News:

Forty-nine people died when a Continental Connection airplane crashed into a house in Clarence Center shortly after 10:15 p.m. Thursday, setting off a huge fire that could be seen miles away.

The dead included 44 passengers, four crew members and a person on the ground.

A nurse at Erie County Medical Center said the hospital's second shift had been told to stay late to treat survivors but was sent home before midnight.

"There were no souls to bring in and treat," she said.

You can also view video coverage of the press conference and footage taken from the scene at the Buffalo News video page. The site also hosts the final radio transmission received from Continental Flight 3407 prior to the crash.

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Comments from the scene, featured in today's Democrat & Chronicle:

“The whole sky was lit up orange,” Bob Dworak, who lives less than a mile from the crash site, told The Associated Press. He said that residents of the neighborhood, about 10 miles from the Buffalo airport, were used to planes rumbling overhead, but he took note last night when one sounded louder than usual and made some odd noises.

“We were thinking it was just another plane,” he said. “It kind of made some sputtering noises but they lower the landing gear over our house a lot so the noise from the planes a lot of time will change kind of drastically as they go over.”

Kathy Dworak said she and her husband stepped outside and saw a huge ball of fire.

“We could see nothing that told us it was a plane,” she said. “It was just a massive ball of flame.”

A follow-up piece in the Buffalo News looks into icing as a potential cause of the crash.

Just minutes after Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed, air traffic controllers began quizzing other pilots about the icy conditions over Buffalo.

A recording of those conversations Thursday night suggests ice may be one of the suspected causes of the nation's deadliest air crash in more than two years.

"Delta 1998, you getting any icing where you're at?" a Buffalo air traffic controller asked just minutes after Continental's 74-seat aircraft went down, killing 49 people.

"We picked it up on the way down," the pilot reponds. "I don't think it's building any more here but about 6,500 (feet) down to 3,500 (feet) maybe."

We received the following statement from Rep. Chris Lee, a resident of Clarence.

Congressman Chris Lee, who represents and is a resident of Clarence, will be on the ground this morning with federal, local and state officials. He has issued the following brief statement:

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic accident that occurred last night in Clarence. Our focus right now is supporting the first responders on the ground, who have done heroic work in ensuring the health and safety of people in the area. My website is continually providing residents and concerned citizens with updated information, as well as the opportunity to leave messages for the families of the victims, first responders, and the members of the community.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families at this difficult hour.”

Dan Fischer has audio of Lee talking about the location of the crash up on the WBTA Web site.

Update (9:45 a.m.): A report from CNN explains that this particular passenger jet is one of the safest around.

The turboprop plane that crashed in New York state, killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, was one of the safest and most sophisticated aircraft of its type, according to an aviation industry expert.

The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 was less than one year old and had flown for only about 1,500 hours, said Kieran Daly, of the online aviation news service Air Transport Intelligence.

Update (10:39 a.m.): Statement from state Senator Mike Ranzenhofer:

"On behalf of the citizens of the 61st District and the Town of Clarence, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families affected by the tragedy of Flight 3407.  Our thoughts and prayers, as well as those of the entire State of New York, are with you at this most difficult time.

"Our sincere thanks and gratitude go to our communities' first responders. It is times like these where our Western New York community comes together to help and console one another."

Two-car crash in Le Roy sends one woman to the hospital

By Philip Anselmo

Melissa J. Beaumont, 30, of Rochester, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital this afternoon where she was treated for a neck injury and released following a two-car crash on Route 19 in Le Roy, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Beaumont was driving on Route 19 when she failed to negotiate a curve and lost control of the vehicle. Her car then slid into the opposite lane, colliding with a pickup truck coming from that direction. The truck, operated by James M. Smith, 45, of Warsaw, was pushed into the guard rail, then off the shoulder and into a snow embankment. Smith did not report any injury.

Video: Crash in Stafford

By Philip Anselmo

The intersection of Randall and Buckley roads in Stafford was the scene of a devastating car crash Monday afternoon. Three Mercy Flight helicopters were needed to transport the injured. One woman, a mother from Le Roy, remained in guarded condition this morning with a serious head injury.

Two families were involved in the collision that sent one vehicle onto its side and the other into a tree, and emergency personnel attended to seven injured, one seriously. Rachel L. Heywood, 34, of Warsaw, was traveling with her three children, Madison, 4; Andrew, 12; and Haley, 10. Heywood suffered a broken ankle and other minor injuries. Her children, too, reported minor injuries. 45-year-old Deborah S. Hughes, of Le Roy, did not fare so well. She and her two children, James, 12, and Kathryn, 15, were taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital. James and Kathryn were both reported to being treated for non life-threatening injuries. Deborah Hughes was in serious condition with a head injury. She was still in guarded condition at the hospital this morning.

Genesee County sheriff's deputies report that an SUV traveling on Buckley Road failed to stop for a stop sign and collided broadside with a car on Randall Road. The SUV then skidded off the road and flipped onto its side, while the car continued head on into a nearby tree. Fire departments from Stafford, Byron, Le Roy and Batavia assisted at the scene. State police were also on hand to assist.

Rachel Heywood was ticketed with failure to yield the right of way at a stop sign.

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