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September 6, 2019 - 4:29pm
posted by Billie Owens in darien lake, six flags, harvest festival, news, Darien.

Six Flags Darien Lake’s annual Harvest Festival will be held Sept. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

It will feature specialty food, beer and entertainment.

They will also be offering an exclusive beer garden with more than a dozen seasonal brews and exquisite culinary creations.

Live music and performers will take the stage for an afternoon of live entertainment and guests can participate in crafts, slides and games.

Harvest Festival activities are included with park admission, but food and beer require an additional fee.

September 2, 2019 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien, darien lake, darien lake performing arts center.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department during the Brantley Gilbert concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Friday:

Jacob D. Dobrick, 22, of Treehaven Road, West Seneca, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after allegedly being found in possession of a quantity of marijuana.

Jestus P. Hoffman, 21, of Boston State Road, Hamburg,  is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after having been ejected and told not to return.

Charles P. Mitchell, 39, of Sanders Road, Stafford, is charged with trespass after allegedly refusing to leave Darien Lake property after being told to leave numerous times.

Amber L. Haynes, 28, of Pioneer Lane, Delevan, is charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly striking a Live Nation security guard in the face.

August 19, 2019 - 10:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in connor lynskey, news, crime, darien lake, notify, jennifer serrano.

The 49-year-old mother of three who drove drunk a year ago and killed a Hinckley teenager, leaving him to die alone in ditch in a cornfield off Sumner Road, was given the maximum possible sentence today in Genesee County Court.

Jennifer Serrano was convicted by a jury on July 2 of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. Connor Lynskey was killed sometime after midnight on Aug. 11 on Sumner Road while walking back to a campsite after attending a country music concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center with friends.

But before she was sentenced, Serrano had to listen to the tragedy she has wrought on Connor's family and hear firsthand of his mother's heartbreak.

Donna Lynskey read her remarks at the podium in a packed courtroom, with her husband, Michael, gently holding her right elbow, and Connor's brother, other relatives and their priest holding large portraits of Connor -- in his soccer uniform, suited in a senior high school photo, smiling in khaki shorts and a light-colored shirt.

A Mother Tells A Courtroom About Her Son

"I want you to know who Connor was," she said.

By last summer, the 18-year-old had completed his freshman year with honors at Siena College in Loudonville and he planned to become a rural doctor. At the time of his death, he had one week left of his summer vacation before he was scheduled to return Aug. 19 for his sophomore year and training as a resident assistant in the freshman dorms.

He had already been accepted into Upstate Medical University’s Medical Doctor Program during his senior year at Holland Patent High School, where he had a 95.35 GPA and was the president of his class.

Connor was also captain of his soccer team, named to the Center State Conference All-Star Team for soccer, and was the Division 1 Player of the Year in 2017 for the Center State Conference.

In his honor, Connor’s soccer coach now gives out the Connor Lynskey Award to a player on the Holland Patent Varsity Soccer Team at the end of the season. The award reads that it goes to “someone who always gives 100 percent at everything he does; doesn’t take shortcuts; always leads by example; is kind; a leader off and on the field; a good musician; does great in school; is an excellent runner; and always treats people with respect."

Connor also participated in track and field in high school, was a talented saxophone player, both in his high school wind ensemble and jazz band. His classmates voted Connor as the most likely to succeed in his graduating class.

"Not once was there ever a phone call home from school that Connor had misbehaved," Donna Lynskey said. "At all parent-teacher conferences and open houses, the comments that were made about Connor were glowing – respectful, kind, intelligent, and the list goes on."

He also enjoyed kayaking, skiing, swimming, pickup games of football and soccer, climbing the Adirondack Mountains, and February breaks in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

He was employed at his family's restaurant where he started as a landscaper and dish washer and then moved up to carver, cook and banquet server. He took pride in working with his father and helping out his family.

On several occasions Connor talked about wanting to be a foster parent when he got older. He wanted to help kids who were less fortunate. He always came home inspired whenever he volunteered at the soup kitchen in Utica, his mother said.

"He stated to our priest that he enjoyed being an altar server because that is when he felt closest to God," Lynskey said.

Connor’s favorite place to go was Ager Falls (in Lyons Falls) to swim, discover, explore and slide down the rocks.

"We are grateful that the Sunday before Connor was killed we went there as a family one last time and took some priceless photos of him," she said.

In fact, 2018 was the best summer of his life. He had grown into an impressive young man. He had spent a week on Montauk Point with his cousin, aunt and uncle. He ran the 15K Boilermaker Road Race in Utica with his cousins and uncle. And he traveled to Lima and Machu Picchu, Peru, where he spent close to three weeks learning the culture with newfound Peruvian friend, Manu, from Siena College. Connor had already made plans to travel to Peru again in 2019.

"Above all Connor was a kind and caring person," his mother said. "Connor was the one to find time to travel to his grandmother’s house just to check in on her and play a game of rummy or seeing what he could do to help her around the house.

"He was the one to take time out of his busy schedule to hand write his grandmother letters via snail mail (USPS) to let her know how he’s doing at college since she doesn’t email or text."

The aspiring doctor was also full of joy.

"When you were around him you couldn’t help but feel his happiness and his love for life," his mother said. "He wasn’t loud and boisterous. He was a listener, a thinker. He had his grandfather’s steel blue eyes and his father’s wonderful sense of humor. ... He was the mysterious light that others followed. We all relied on him."

His biology study group at college said they could count on Connor to liven things up when they were stressing out because he'd tell a silly joke like "Under what?" to try and get someone to say "Under where?" even though they'd heard the gag a hundred times.

"​He had a way about him that brought happiness, peace and inclusiveness," Lynskey said. "Connor seemed to have a deeper understanding about life than most people."

A Miracle Child

After their first child, Michael Jr., was born the doctor told the Lynskeys they would not have any more children. But nearly six years later Connor was born.

And his big brother Michael took great pride in teaching his little sibling things he needed to know.

"Connor was Michael’s protégé," she said. "They played sports, video games, fantasy football, and the game of life. They were best friends. When they were together, it was as if they had their own language that only they understood."

Connor's medical school ambitions were modeled after his brother's, who had blazed the trail to medical school before him. They planned to open their future medical practice together in Upstate New York.

Almost three years after Connor’s birth, his sister, Meghan, was born.

"Connor will always be her guardian angel," his mother said. "From the time Meghan was born, Connor took his role as big brother seriously and guided her every step of the way."

Their Lives Are Shattered

Connor was killed sometime after midnight on Aug. 11 last year. They received a phone call about 9 a.m. that morning that Connor was missing.

“Missing? What do you mean? He went camping with his friends. How could he possibly be missing?” she told the caller.

His parents quickly left on the three-hour trip to Darien Lake, praying the whole way there was some misunderstanding. It just didn’t make sense to them that their responsible, reliable son was missing. They called the area’s hospitals and they prayed. By 11 a.m. “we were at a loss. We knew something was terribly wrong.”

As they crossed Sumner Road, they noticed the road was closed and a police car had its lights flashing. As they came closer, they noticed several police cars at the side of the road with their lights on. “This couldn’t be.” Then an officer approached their vehicle and told them they could proceed no further.

I explained “My son is missing. Did you find my son?”

Lynskey paused at this point and swallowed hard, fighting back tears.

She told the officer her son’s name and the officer said yes, they had found her son. "Can we see him?" she asked. “He stated ‘no you cannot.’ “

“Is he dead?” she asked, “and he shook his head yes. 'Are you sure? Are you sure he is dead?' And the officer replied ‘I am sure.’ "

“That’s when our lives were shattered. Unless you have experienced the loss of one of your children, you cannot understand or even begin to imagine the anguish. Our world fell apart. The shock was overwhelming. To think that Connor had worked so hard for his short 18 years … and it was taken away so quickly. All of his hopes and dreams were extinguished. He would never be able to help the people of Upstate New York that he so wanted to."

They tried to fathom how someone could hit him and leave him in a ditch to die.

"At first we thought it must have been a young driver – someone under age 25 whose brain hadn’t fully developed yet, somebody who did not realize the extent of their actions," she said.

But after they came to learn the killer was a then-48-year-old mother of three, with a passenger in the car – another mother, she said they "lost their faith in humanity."

Things Have Different Meanings Now

Everything in their lives has changed – "from the meaning of songs on the radio, to the patterns of the clouds in the sky, the actions of the birds around us, the meaning of the butterflies flying near us, to the pain of waking up in the morning and realizing it isn’t just a nightmare. This is our reality.

"Little by little, we are trying to rebuild our lives. It's a slow process. I'm told by others who’ve lost children that the pain never subsides. All you can do is learn to live with the pain and try to put the shattered pieces back together. We cannot get through it; but we are trying to live forward.”

The Way It Appears

"According to court testimony, it appears it wasn’t enough for the defendant to consume 22 to 29 alcoholic beverages on Aug. 10 into the early morning hours of Aug. 11," Connor's mother said. "She then decided to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, turning it into a deadly weapon. It appears that it wasn’t enough for her to decide to leave my son in the ditch on Sumner Road to die alone.

"It appears that if she had stopped and called 9-1-1 my son would have had a chance at survival. It appears that didn’t matter to her or the passenger in that vehicle. The only concern they had was for themselves.

"Even after nearly hitting a police vehicle and watching the body cam video of the field sobriety test, I was perplexed and disgusted. How could a person who just hit a human being and left him at the side of the road be laughing and smiling? And even after all that the defendant has shown no remorse and took these charges to trial."

Lynskey then quoted from a transcript of a phone call that Serrano had with someone named "Dennis" while in Niagara County Jail: “I know that I did the stupidest thing I could have possibly ever done. But I’ve done stupider and this is a horrible accident.”

Connor's mother finds it "absolutely despicable" that Serrano chose to drive drunk, killed her son, left him in a ditch to die, then took the case to trial and tried to blame Connor for his own death.

"She has no regard for human life except her own," she said.

She then asked Judge Charles Zambito for the maximum sentence allowable by law: four-and-two-thirds to 14 years in state prison.

Throughout the mother's statement, Serrano seemed to pay attention and she looked at Lynskey as she spoke. Serrano wore heavy bangs and had her hair in a topknot pinned unneatly on her head. She had on eyeglasses, wore dark slacks and an ivory blouse. She was flanked by her two attorneys. She did not cry -- at first.

No Plea Deal Ever Considered

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman spoke next and said this case is the first time in his nearly 38 years of working as a prosecutor that he made absolutely no plea offer.

The reason is because when he spoke to Connor's mother initially about the case and told her that the maximum this defendant was facing was four-and-two-thirds to 14 years, she couldn’t comprehend how that could be possible.

"I had to agree with her," Friedman said. "That sentence is woefully inadequate."

But it's possible because of the way the statute is written and by Serrano's decision, some say a calculated one, to refuse a Breathalyzer test, not report the accident and therefore not be subjected to BAC mandatory testing.

Based on testimony at trial, had her BAC been known, Friedman, Lynskey and subsequently Judge Zambito all said they had no doubt it would have been above .18 percent – which would make the crime a first-degree vehicular manslaughter charge – a Class C felony – with a sentence of five to 15 years. If you add the two-and-one-third to seven years for leaving the scene of an accident, she could have faced seven to 22 years.

"Concurrent sentencing would constitute a horrible failure to recognize what the defendant did by fleeing the scene," Friedman told Zambito.

The district attorney reminded the court that the defendant ignored pleas from her own passenger about striking something in the roadway and drove off. When she nearly struck a deputy's vehicle a short time later, she refused a BAC test.

"She knew what she had done," Friedman said. "She knew this was not just a minor DWI."

After she was arrested for DWI and her license was taken, she still got into her Jeep Wrangler and drove on the Thruway to her home in Chautauqua County, Friedman said. Ultimately it was her passenger's husband who reported the accident, the DA said, and the passenger contacted an attorney who then called Genesee County Sheriff's Office to check on a hit-and-run accident.

Friedman said he read the letters submitted to the court by Serrano's friends and family, but the person described is not a person capable of committing the acts in this court case.

"That person is not someone who simply engaged in an uncharacteristic lapse of judgment -- her decisions, her choices, her actions showed over and over a callous disregard for human life -- of others, not just Connor’s," Friedman said. "She continued to drive while intoxicated after striking Connor, causing his death, after her license was suspended, while she was still under the influence of alcohol."

This point prompted Serrano to twist uncomfortably in her chair, slump over the table and sob.

"Then she tried to convince a jury that Connor was responsible for his death, which a unanimous jury did not buy beyond a reasonable doubt," Friedman said.

He then read more quotes from transcripts of her jailhouse phone calls: "I feel so guilty, I feel so bad for that mother." In an effort to blame her passenger she says “the princess couldn’t walk two miles to the tent. …. I’m just pissed, you know, I take my blame in it. I shouldn’t have driven. But you know what Babs? We had a tent pitched at Brook’s house on 77, two miles up the road and the bitch didn’t want to walk. The princess didn’t want to walk.  … I am responsible for my own choices. ... I deserve everything I get."

"Truer words were never spoken, your honor, she deserves everything she gets," Friedman added.

'She Knows She Is Really Messed Up'

Her attorney Frank LoTempio said it's been "a tough road for everyone involved." He perfunctorily apologized to the Lynskey family for their loss.

Then he told Judge Zambito that the person who has been portrayed in the Genesee County courtroom is not the person Serrano really is. He characterized her as remorseful and said "she knows she is really messed up" -- a fact underscored by her attempted suicide a few days after the incident.

"She never had an issue with the law before," LoTempio said. "She's not a monster as Mr. Friedman portrayed her to be. ... This is a successful businesswoman who was strained by going through a difficult divorce. She will make a difference when she gets out. She's a very, very, very good person.

LoTempio said a consecutive sentence, versus a concurrent one, is “not at all” appropriate in his client's case. He even cited a case from January where Zambito sentenced someone involved in a serious injury accident while intoxicated to six months in prison and five years probation. This is the kind of balance Zambito should consider today, he added hopefully, and noted that his client has already been behind bars for a year to date.

But Zambito was unpersuaded after reviewing all of the case materials and the letters from family and friends on both sides. He acknowleged that he had wide latitude in sentencing.

"Connor Lynskey appeared to be an outstanding young man with a bright and luminous future," Zambito said. "His death amounts to an immeasurable loss to his family, his friends and the community. Who’s to say whose lives he might have touched had he been able to live."

Nonetheless it is "untenable" to weigh the value of someone’s life in reaching a sentence. All life is valuable. He acknowleged the defendant has no prior criminal history.

For the Judge, the Facts Speak for Themselves

"The most important factors are the facts of the case itself," the judge said.

He agrees with the prosecution that the defendant was highly, highly intoxicated. She was driving the vehicle that struck and killed Connor Lynskey.

"As to the question of Connor walking in the roadway, with all respect to the jury, it doesn’t matter," Zambito said.

Serrano drove with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Her passenger said when they were stopped on Route 77, she either fell asleep or passed out.

Testimony of the defense expert did not indicate she did not see Connor; she should have known she hit something. She should have seen him. The front right fender was torn off, flew over vehicle, the windshield smashed, the passenger side mirror was broken off.

Later, she tried to talk her way out of getting arrested by Deputy Henning, Zambito said, citing her ties to law enforcement. When that was not successful, she became verbally combative. She refused testing and did not report an accident, which allowed her to avoid mandatory testing, therefore her degree of intoxication is unknowable.

Then she still drove after her license was revoked that night following the near-accident with the deputy. She didn’t go to the police, she talked to an attorney. Her friend finally reported it.

"Her actions are so egregious, they outweigh mitigating factors," Zambito concluded.

He was singularly unimpressed with the letter she wrote on her own behalf to him.

"Your statements are so nuanced, to express regret without admitting guilt, maybe it was written by your attorney," Zambito said.

She mentions having "no intent" – none is required, he noted, and "to say you expected to be found not guilty, tells me you still don't feel guilty."

Indeed, she writes as if she's being wrongly persecuted  – that she’s been treated unfairly by the DA, law enforcement. The overall correspondence lacks sincerity, he told her.

"I do try to be balanced, I'm not what anybody would call a hanging judge, but I can’t find any reason not to give the maximum possible," Zambito said.

So he wrapped matters up by declaring she will serve two-and-one-third to seven years indeterminately on the conviction of second-degree vehicular manslaughter and the same amount of time consecutively for leaving the scene of an accident -- a total of four-and-two-thirds to 14 years, along with a $2,000 fine. 

Serrano studied her hands and picked at her nails as the minutae was read.

Upon release, her NYS driver's license will be revoked for one year for the manslaughter conviction. For the misdemeanor DWI, her prison sentence is one year to run concurrently, with a $500 fine and a license revocation of six months.

For aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, she'll serve 180 days concurrently and pay a $500 fine.

Post-release conditional discharge was set for three years and she must have an interlock ignition device on her vehicle once she receives her driving privileges back.

She'll also pay: a $50 DNA fee; $75 surcharge on misdemeanor DWI conviction; a Crime Victim Assistance Fee of $25; $195 DWI and vehicle and traffic law surcharge.

All fines must begin being paid within 60 days of release at the rate of $100 a month.

Serrano did not look back at anyone in the gallery as she was led out of a courtroom side door to begin serving her sentence.

'Connor's Way' -- 'Something Good'

Also, Connor's mother announced the creation of "Connor's Way" -- "to help something good come out of this" -- established by her son's friends and family members. It will offer "scholarship opportunities to graduating high school seniors and to future medical students who want to work in underserved communities, and also help families in need."

Photos: Still frames taken from video by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

Story based on video and audio provided by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

August 13, 2019 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, darien lake, darien lake performing arts center.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Bryan Adams Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Friday:

Julie M. Adam, 48, of Abbott Road, Buffalo, was charged with second-degree harassment and trespass after allegedly punching a Live Nation security guard in the head and then attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

John L. Adam, 26 of Abbott Road, Buffalo, was charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly grabbing and shoving a Live Nation security guard. 

Joseph F. Adam, 22, of Abbott Road, Buffalo, was charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly striking a Live Nation security guard. 

August 8, 2019 - 12:28pm

Press release:

Darien Center –  The Outlaw Music Festival featuring Willie Nelson & Family, Bonnie Raitt, Phil Lesh & Friends and Alison Krauss will go on as scheduled this Sept. 8th.

Unfortunately, Willie had to cancel a handful of shows in August due to breathing problems, but the beloved "red-headed stranger" will see you on the road again starting in September for the Outlaw Music Festival Tour!

August 2, 2019 - 5:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, Darien, darien lake, darien lake performing arts center.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department during the Dierks Bentley Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Thursday.

Aaron J. Bonn, age 38, of Wagler Avenue, Baden, Ontario, Canada, is charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly pushing another person. 

Zachary L. Kramer, age 18, of Hillbridge Drive, Rochester, is charged with petit larceny for allegedly stealing a bottle of alcohol from within the concert venue.

Mackenzie M. McDonald, age 19, of Teal Drive, Fairport, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after having been ejected and told not to return. 

Fourteen people were cited for possession of alcohol under age 21.

July 22, 2019 - 6:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, darien lake, darien lake performing arts center, news.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Thomas Rhett concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on July 19:

John K. Turton, 38 of Coburn Road, Ulysses, Pa., is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. Turton also entered the concessions area in an attempt to avoid arrest. John was arraigned in Darien Court and jailed in lieu of $250 bail.

Zachary A. Bellin, 21, of Livingston Avenue, Syracuse, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to enter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

Gina M. Quattrone, 21, of Clearview Drive, Spencerport, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

Abbey J. Gardner, 18, of Kemp Drive, Macedon, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Remy M. Cummings, 18, of Cornwall Drive, Macedon, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Joshua E. Boozer, 33, of Park Avenue, Warren, Pa., is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly threatening to strike a Live Nation security guard with a chair inside the venue. 

Emily R. Boozer, 26, of Park Avenue, Warren, Pa., is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly grabbing a Live Nation security guard by the neck scratching him with her nails.

Keri A. Ramsey, 24, of Old Buffalo Road, Attica, is charged with driving while intoxicated and driving with over .08-percent BAC after allegedly being involved in an accident on the Darien Lake Employee Road.

July 19, 2019 - 2:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, news, crime, darien lake performing arts center, Darien.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department during the Blink 182/Lil’ Wayne concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Wednesday:

Johnnie L Green III, 26, of NW 22nd Avenue, Opa-locka, Fla., is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly harassing a Darien lake Employee after the concert.

William D. Hoover, 18, of Forest Creek Lane, Grand Island, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being found in possession of a quantity of marijuana.

Skye D. Weaver, 18, of Crouse Road, Bath, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being found in possession of a quantity of marijuana. 

Kyle N. House, 20, of Lawrence Woods, Orchard Park, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being found in possession of a quantity of marijuana.

Benjamin C. Milligan, 50, of East Jensen Street, Fresno, Calif., is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after having been ejected and told not to return.

Timothy J. Murphy, 19, of Aspinwood Place, Buffalo, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after having been ejected and told not to return. 

Jake R. Duffy, 18, of Caldwell Drive, West Seneca, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being found in possession of a quantity of marijuana. 

Nicholas S. Witczak, 30, of McKinley Parkway, Buffalo, is charged with trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after having been ejected and told not to return. 

Andrew T. Ryan, 24, of Freshour Road, Canandaigua, is charged with trespass and disorderly conduct after allegedly refusing to leave the venue after being told numerous times to leave and also creating a disturbance at the venue. 

Leah C. Lincoln, 18, of Cider Circle, Rochester, is charged with criminal trespass, 3rd, after allegedly returning to Darien Lake property after being told not to return due to a prior incident. 

June 25, 2019 - 8:51pm

Attorneys spent more than an hour hashing out details this afternoon with Candace Gilden about the moments before, during and after she rode with an alleged drunk driver the night of a hit-and-run accident in Darien that killed 18-year-old Connor Lynskey last August.

Passenger Gilden, driver Jennifer Serrano and pedestrian Lynskey had all departed a Jason Aldean concert on Aug. 10 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center intending to safely to go to their destinations. 

Gilden, a 41-year-old former Derby resident, was a passenger in her friend Serrano’s Jeep Wrangler when Serrano unknowingly struck Lynskey on Sumner Road.

New evidence came to light in Genesee County Court today as Gilden was called upon by District Attorney Lawrence Friedman to recount her perception of that fateful night during direct examination.

She said that earlier in the afternoon of Aug. 10, she and Serrano, a 48-year-old resident of Irving, met up and consumed one alcoholic beverage each prior to purchasing more alcohol at Tops Friendly Market in Derby.

Serrano and Gilden packed coolers containing the beverages and traveled to a friend’s house on Route 77 near Darien Lake. There, they continued to drink as they set up a tent outside to sleep in after the concert.

The women drank in the Darien Lake parking lot, throughout the Aldean performance, and at an on-site after-party. Gilden testified that Serrano was behaving normally as they consumed alcohol. 

As the women walked to Serrano’s vehicle, Serrano insisted that she was OK to drive back to the friend’s house on Route 77. In the midst of traffic after the concert, and having a lack of familiarity with the area, the women became lost while driving down Sumner Road.

Gilden said she attempted to find their location on Google Maps and, therefore, was focused on her phone screen as Serrano drove on the dark road. 

Serrano reportedly turned around on Sumner Road in order to drive in the direction of Route 77. Gilden noticed that a crack in the windshield had formed and the right exterior rear-view mirror had been pushed toward the passenger door. Gilden maintained she did not see, hear or feel anything that could have caused the damage throughout her testimony.

Gilden then asked Serrano what had happened and, after getting no answer, turned down the loud music that was playing and asked again. Serrano responded that they needed to drive to her friend’s house.

The women continued driving without stopping to check the damage to the vehicle.

About 30 minutes later, Deputy Robert Henning pulled over Serrano after a near collision with his patrol vehicle and charged her with drunk driving when she reportedly failed field sobriety tests. Gilden later posted Serrano’s $1,000 bail at Genesee County Jail. 

After refueling her Jeep at a gas station on Route 77, Serrano allegedly drove her vehicle without a driver's license, which had just been revoked by the police due to her performance on the sobriety tests.   

The women returned to the area surrounding Sumner Road on Aug. 11 in an attempt to find where the vehicle sustained damage with little success.

Gilden testified that she felt physically ill that evening when she received news that Lynskey, of Hinckley, had been killed on Sumner Road in the early hours of Aug. 11. Gilden described the surprised expression on Serrano’s face upon relaying the information to her.

On Aug. 12, Gilden gave a statement to Genesee County Sheriff's deputies about her understanding of the situation. Serrano was charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

On cross examination, defense attorney Frank LoTempio debated whether jurors should trust Gilden’s interpretation of Serrano's behavior and actions as well as the accident, since Gilden admitted she was impaired by alcohol on Aug. 10 and 11.

Gilden also maintained that her attention was diverted to her phone at the time of the collision, so LoTempio argued it is difficult for her to know if Serrano drove in an erratic manner.

LoTempio fired a crucial line of questioning at Gilden about whether the vehicle struck something or if something hit the vehicle on Sumner Road. This argument — that Lynskey may have tripped into Serrano’s vehicle due to the poorly lit road and his 0.16 blood alcohol content — is the question that defense counsel also begs of jurors.

The trial will draw nearer to that answer at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Genesee County Court.

June 25, 2019 - 2:22pm
posted by Lauren Leone in news, darien lake, fatal accident, jennifer serrano, notify.

Details about the events surrounding the fatal Darien hit-and-run last August are emerging as opening statements and first witnesses are heard in the case of 48-year-old Jennifer L. Serrano.

Today is the first trial day for Irving, Chautauqua County, resident.

During his opening remarks, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman informed jurors of: the basic overview of the accident; some of the individuals they can expect to hear from throughout court proceedings; and a brief account of the actions taken by both the victim, 18-year-old Connor Lynskey, and the defendant in connection to the accident.

Friedman explained to jurors the four counts Serrano is charged with: second-degree vehicular manslaughter, which, as a result of alleged intoxication, caused Serrano to drive her Jeep in a manner that killed Lynskey; leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it; driving while intoxicated; and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Defense attorney Frank LoTempio delivered his opening statement next. He said that defense counsel does not intend to argue that Serrano did not drink and drive, nor that her vehicle did not strike Lynskey and cause his death.

However, LoTempio maintained that the tragedy may not have resulted from Serrano’s reported intoxication, and that Lynskey’s 0.16 BAC at the time of his death may have led him to walk into Serrano’s traffic lane. 

LoTempio encouraged jurors to pay close attention to evidence of Serrano’s conduct as she was questioned by officers at the time of her arrest, the darkness of the accident scene, and the accident reconstruction information that is expected to arise later in the trial.

The prosecution called its first witness, Dr. Nadia Granger, who performed Lynskey’s autopsy at the Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner. She told the court that Lynskey endured injuries to his right shoulder, facial bones, skull and brain. These injuries are consistent with his cause of death, which is multiple blunt force injuries, and the damage sustained by the right side of Serrano’s vehicle.

The prosecution also brought forward Hunter Richard, a longtime friend of Lynskey’s who also attended the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Aug. 10 with Lynskey.

Richard recounted the events that occurred on Aug. 10 and 11 and his rationale for walking along Sumner Road in Darien as he and his friends returned to Darien Lakes State Park campground. 

Richard testified that Lynskey was behaving normally as they walked to the campsite, so impairment by alcohol was not a factor in Lynskey's death in his opinion.

LoTempio challenged Richard’s account of his proximity to the roadway, the collision sound heard by the teens, and the safety measures taken the night of the accident.

Both counsels will call more witnesses and introduce new evidence to the jurors as the trial proceeds this afternoon and throughout the week.

June 17, 2019 - 1:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake performing arts center, crime, news.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department during the Zac Brown Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Caleb J. Muhs,18, of Hoover Road, Rochester, arrested on a charge of harassment 2nd and resisting arrest after allegedly pushing and shoving a deputy and then physically resisting the arrest.  Muhs was arraigned in Darien Court and remanded to jail in lieu of $500 bail.

John S.A. Fichter, 20, of Carrie Marie Lane, Hilton, arrested on a charge of criminal trespass 3rd after allegedly entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

Erika C. Russell, 21, of Thorndyke Road, Rochester, arrested on a charge of criminal trespass 3rd after allegedly entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

Megan E. Motkowski,19, of Millford Crossing, Penfield, arrested on a charge of criminal trespass 3rd after allegedly entering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

David m. Odojewski, 27, of Enola Avenue, Kenmore, arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct after allegedly fighting with Live Nation Security while being ejected from the concert. 

Jonathan J. Curry, 30, of Lehavre Street, Cheektowaga, arrested on a charge of trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

Matthew R. Worley, 19, of Route 64, Ionia, Pa., arrested on a charge of trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return. 

A 17-year-old of Olde Post Rider Trail, Greece, NY arrested on a charge of trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Britney L. Emmick, 22, of 14th Street, Troy, NY arrested on a charge of trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

June 17, 2019 - 12:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake theme park, darien lake, business.

Press release:

Six Flags Darien Lake is currently seeking qualified individuals to fill more than 500 positions in various departments for the 2019 season.

Six Flags Darien Lake, “The Thrill Capital of New York State,” is one of the region’s largest employers and offers competitive pay, free park admission, and tickets for family and friends.

“Six Flags Darien Lake is committed to providing a fun, fast-paced work environment for job seekers across Western New York. We offer weekly pay, exclusive team member events, and flexible scheduling,” said Park President Chris Thorpe.

“Applicants who come out for our Job-A-Thon could potentially be hired on the spot. Additionally, anyone who interviews will receive a complimentary ticket to the park.”

The Job-A-Thon begins Monday, June 17 and ends Saturday, June 22. The Human Resources building will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those dates.

Candidates should apply online at sixflagsjobs.com to schedule their interview. Applicants must be 14 years of age.

Available positions include:

  • Admissions & Guest Relations
  • Food Services
  • Ride Operators
  • Human Resources
  • Park Services
  • Games
  • Retail
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Accommodations/Lodging
  • Lifeguards
  • Maintenance
  • Warehouse
  • Cash Control

For more information on jobs at Six Flags Darien Lake, visit sixflagsjobs.com. The park opened for full-time operation on June 14th.

Six Flags 2019 Memberships and Season Passes are now available. Members can enjoy priority park entry, preferred parking and tremendous discounts of up to 50 percent on nearly all food and merchandise purchases all season long.

Gold Plus, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Elite levels are available featuring all the perks of a Season Pass plus other benefits including admission to all Six Flags-branded theme and waterparks, skip the line passes, unlimited soft drinks and much more!

For more information, visit the Membership Sales Center or go online tosixflags.com/darienlake and sign up.

May 28, 2019 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake performing arts center, Darien, news, crime.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Chris Young concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Friday:

Danielle M. Molisani, 19, of Black Street Road, Caledonia, is charged with false personation after allegedly providing a false name while being ejected from the concert venue.

David M. Filion, 22, of Redlein Drive, Lancaster, is charged with trespass after allegedly reentering the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Michelle S. Scheib, 41, of Fulton Street, Buffalo, s charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching a security guard in the head.

Donald D. Mikowski, 21, of Wabash Avenue, Cheektowaga, is charged with harassment, 2nd, after allegedly pushing and hitting a security guard inside the venue.

Anthony R. Mason, 30, of Marsdale Road, Buffalo, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC over .08 percent after allegedly being found operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Eric J. Rejman, 33, of Maishoss Street, Cheektowaga, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC over .08 percent and refusing to submit to prescreen device after allegedly being found operating a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition in the parking lot.

May 18, 2019 - 6:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake theme park, Darien.

 

Video Sponsor

 

Officials at Darien Lake Theme Park invited the media yesterday to preview the park's newest thrill ride, SkyScreamer, which opened to the public today.

Here's a press release about the ride:

Six Flags Darien Lake – The Thrill Capital of New York – is proud to announce the opening of its newest attraction, Six Flags SkyScreamer.

Yesterday, members of the media were invited to be amongst the first to experience this 24-story, sky-high swing ride. Towering above the park at an incredible 242 feet, Six Flags SkyScreamer is the tallest thrill ride in New York State. 

“Six Flags continues to lead the way in innovation as we bring the state’s tallest ride to Western New York," said Park President Chris Thorpe. "We are thrilled to add this shining beacon and iconic landmark to the Six Flags Darien Lake skyline.

"From this impressive tower guests will soar high among the clouds, taking in majestic views of the park and surrounding countryside below.”

By night, Six Flags SkyScreamer’s bold, synchronized lighting package will light up the sky and beckon thrill-seekers near and far.

  • A soaring 24-stories tall;
  • 32 riders, sitting two across in open-air swings; and
  • Spinning round and round a 98-foot circle at 35 miles per hour. 

Six Flags SkyScreamer will open to the public Saturday, May 18. For more information on Six Flags Darien Lake’s 2019 season visit www.darienlake.com

Six Flags 2019 Memberships and Season Passes are now available. Members can enjoy priority park entry, preferred parking and tremendous discounts of up to 50 percent on nearly all food and merchandise purchases all season long.

Gold Plus, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Elite levels are available featuring all the perks of a Season Pass plus other benefits including admission to all Six Flags branded theme and waterparks, skip-the-line passes, unlimited soft drinks and much more!

For more information, visit the Membership Sales Center or go online to sixflags.com/darienlake and sign up.

Here are some stats on the Six Flags SkyScreamer:

At a staggering 242 feet high Six Flags SkyScreamer is the tallest thrill ride in New York State. It takes riders seated in swings up 24 stories and spins them around a 98-foot circle at speeds up to 35 mph. Riders will experience breathtaking views of Six Flags Darien Lake they have never seen before at thrilling speeds.

  • 242-feet high, 24 stories
  • 32 swing seats
  • Speeds up to 35 miles per hour
  • 1,600 LED lights on the tower, more than 1,100 additional puck LED lights on the globe
  • Ride time is approximately three minutes
  • Spins in a 98-foot circle
May 17, 2019 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in SkyScreamer, darien lake, news, darien lake theme park.

skyscreamerdarienlakebw.jpg

We will have a video about Darien Lake's new ride, SkyScreamer later today or tomorrow but here is a picture from this morning.

April 30, 2019 - 2:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake theme park, business, Darien.

skyscreamergoesvertical1.jpg

Press release:

Six Flags Darien Lake is proud to announce construction work on the park’s newest attraction, Six Flags SkyScreamer, is in its final stages. At a staggering 242-feet high Six Flags SkyScreamer will be the tallest thrill ride in New York State. This high-flying new addition solidifies the park as the “Thrill Capital of New York State."

“As a shining beacon of Six Flags Darien Lake, this monstrous tower will serve as an iconic new landmark, calling out to thrill-seekers everywhere,” said Park President Chris Thorpe. “Soaring high among the clouds with majestic views of the park and surrounding countryside far below, guests will take to new, record-setting heights in New York State this season.”

By night, Six Flags SkyScreamer’s bold, synchronized light package will light up the skies.

  • A soaring 24-stories tall approximately 242-feet high;
  • 32 riders, sitting two across in open-air swings; and
  • Spinning round and round a 98-foot circle at 35 miles per hour. 

Six Flags SkyScreamer is scheduled to open by mid-May. For more information on Six Flags Darien Lake’s 2019 season visit www.darienlake.com

Six Flags 2019 Memberships and Season Passes are now available. Members can enjoy priority park entry, preferred parking and tremendous discounts of up to 50 percent on nearly all food and merchandise purchases all season long.

Gold Plus, Platinum, Diamond, and Diamond Elite levels are available featuring all the perks of a Season Pass plus other benefits including admission to all Six Flags-branded theme and waterparks, skip the line passes, unlimited soft drinks and much more!

For more information, visit the Membership Sales Center or go online to sixflags.com/darienlake and sign up.

skyscreamergoesvertical2.jpg

skyscreamergoesvertical4.jpg

October 5, 2018 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Amada Tool, darien lake, darien lake theme park, batavia, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved incentives for Amada Tool and Six Flags Darien Lake LLC, and accepted an application for an expanded PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement to support the Ellicott Station development at the agency’s Oct. 4 board meeting.

Amada Tool in the City of Batavia was approved for incentives for an $8.8 million capital investment to increase the company’s manufacturing facility by approximately 19,000 square feet. The project will create 17 new jobs and retain 68 current jobs. The approved investment includes $2.3 million in construction costs and $6.5 million in new equipment. Amada Tool was approved for property and sales tax exemptions of approximately $266,000.

Six Flags Darien Lake LLC was approved for approximately $166,000 in sales tax exemption to build a new $2.15 million ride that is scheduled to open in 2019.  Six Flags Darien Lake LLC is one of the largest sales tax revenue generators in Genesee County.

The PILOT agreement expansion requested by Savarino Companies for the Ellicott Station development was based on increased capital costs, from approximately $17.6 million to $21.75 million, and the development’s footprint, which will expand from 73,100 square feet to 99,111 square feet. The expansion includes the addition of at-grade garages for residents as well as increasing the number of housing units from 51 units to 55 units. 

NOTE: The Batavian will have a follow-up story on Ellicott Station as soon as we have time to write it, which may not be today.

October 1, 2018 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake performing arts center, news, Darien.

The following people were arrested by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office during the Kid Rock/Brantley Gilbert Concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Friday:

Scott F. Parsons, 30, of Wilelen Road, Chili, was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly engaging in a fight in the parking lot after the concert. Parsons was also arrested on an outstanding Family Court Warrant and turned over to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. 

Frank J. Colosimo, 30, of Stone Road, Greece, was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly engaging in a fight in the parking lot after the concert. Colosimo was also arrested on an outstanding criminal mischief warrant and turned over to Irondequoit Police.

James F. Colosimo Jr., 31, of Pardee Road, Rochester, was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly engaging in a fight in the parking lot after the concert.

Chelea C. Richardson, 19, of Wilelen Road, Chili, was arrested for obstruction of governmental administration, 2nd, after allegedly interfering with deputies breaking up a fight in the parking lot.

Doria L. Gerew, 32, of Georgetown Drive, Rochester, was arrested for harassment, 2nd, after allegedly punching another patron in the face while exiting the concert venue.

Richard J. Moran, 40, of West Sobieski Street, Cheektowaga, was arrested for harassment, 2nd, after allegedly threating to harm a Live Nation Security Officer. 

Cory A. House, 21, of Hartland Street, Middleport, was arrested for trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Dirk D. Brown, 39, of Ford Street, Ogdensburg, was arrested for trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

Michael A. Wheaton, 33, of Burt Hill Road, Canisteo, was arrested for trespass after allegedly attempting to reenter the concert venue after being ejected and told not to return.

September 25, 2018 - 10:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, darien lake theme park, news.

fright_fest_photo2018.jpg

Press release:

Darien Lake, a Six Flags Theme Park, will unleash the biggest and scariest Fright Fest® in park history. As part of the bone-chilling lineup, seven brand new nightmarish attractions leave no tombstone unturned to deliver what guests want most…an all-out terrifying experience.

This brand new event features three electrifying mazes and four dare-to-enter scare zones, along with hellish, roaming zombies around every corner. To take fright to the extreme, Darien Lake will add a sinister element to some of the theme park’s monster coasters by turning off the lights, leaving riders to face their fears in total darkness.

“Darien Lake is thrilled to bring top-level, terrifying thrills to our guests with an incredible lineup of truly frightening attractions and entertainment,” said Park President Chris Thorpe. “Fright Fest is the ultimate national Halloween event and we are excited to present our biggest and scariest event yet.”

New this Year, three haunted attractions (at an additional charge) incorporate state-of-the-art makeup, props, and special effects:

  • Hotel Terror: 7 Deadly Sins: Tour the horrific hotel where sinful guests are condemned to a life of suffering. Beware, they do not take kindly to visitors.
  • Jungle Apocalypse: Immerse into this forsaken island filled with ancient ruins, secrets and a tribe of worshippers looking for their next human sacrifice.
  • Camp Scumshine: Visit the winding paths of death and despair that once was Camp Sunshine. The Boogeyman is real and tonight he could be playing a little trick on YOU!

Four additional scare zones around the park leave guests nowhere to hide and screaming to get out unscathed:

  • Passage of the Damned: Walk through the passage of the soulless keepers that ensure that no living enter the world of the dammed
  • Creep Show Freak Show: The area of rejected and demonic circus performers. This circus troop was banished to the outer world for their misdeeds during their mortal lives.
  • Voodoo Curse: Pass through a marshy inlet but be careful not to be enshrouded by those who have been cursed to roam these mucky waters. These swamp dwellers will unleash their voodoo magic and indulge in the fear of unsuspecting victims
  • Screampunk: People here have been experimented on by a delirious inventor who thought it would be a brilliant idea to mechanize mankind

Big Top Freaks is headlining the entertainment with a nightly show that is NOT for the faint of heart. Freaks showcases four entertainers that specialize in dangerous, scarring, grotesque, and hard-to-watch feats of physical endurance. Additional frightful entertainment includes:

  • Direct from Las Vegas, Zamora the Torture King will cause most to shield their eyes as he subjects his body to numerous skewers being thrust into his arms, face and neck.
  • The Great Throwdini, internationally known as ‘The World's Fastest and Most Accurate Knife Thrower’, will subject his human target to multiple razor sharp knives thrown at dizzying speeds avoiding body parts by only a few inches. 
  • Red Stuart is the oldest sideshow entertainer, oldest sword swallower and holds nine world records for his craft. Armed with nothing more than a kilt and a microphone, he will swallow swords of increasing length, swallows a car axle, and tops it off with swallowing multiple swords at once.
  • Ziggy Artist of Oddities will perform his own signature blend of modern extreme fire eating as well as treat his head like a block of wood by driving a large nail right into his cranium. 

For the little monsters, a Trick or Treat Trail and Halloween crafts round out the activities during the day.

Fright Fest Operating Hours and Days:

  • 6 to 11 p.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26
  • 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27
  • 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 30, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28
  • 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 8

For more information on Darien Lake’s Fright Fest, visit website at www.darienlake.com.

Darien Lake 2019 Season Passes are currently on sale. For a limited time, purchase four or more Darien Lake Season Passes and receive a free upgrade to GOLD on each Pass. GOLD Passes include free Parking Passes and extra Bring a Friend Free days. Additional Season Pass perks include admission to all Six Flags-branded theme parks, park admission to Fright Fest plus all of 2019 which includes more than 100 days of thrills. Season Passes can be purchased online at darienlake.com.

September 7, 2018 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, darien lake, darien lake theme park, business, Amada Tool.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved applications for incentives for two capital projects at the agency’s Sept. 6th board meeting. 

Amada Tool in the city of Batavia is planning an $8.8 million capital investment to increase the company’s manufacturing facility by approximately 19,000 square feet in the City of Batavia.  The project would create 17 new jobs and retain 68 current jobs. 

The proposed investment includes $2.3 million in construction costs and $6.5 million in new equipment. Amada Tool is seeking property and sales tax exemptions of approximately $266,000. Approximately $85 will be generated in the regional economy for every one dollar of private-sector investment by Amada.

Six Flags Darien Lake LLC is one of the largest sales tax revenue generators in Genesee County and one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations is planning to build and open a new $2.150 million ride in 2019.  The company is seeking approximately $166,000 in sales tax exemptions.    

Both projects will require public hearings as the companies are seeking incentives of more than $100,000.

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