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Facing Disasters: Citizen Preparedness Corps Training

By Kathie Scott

If enough Batavia City School District residents are interested, the District will host the American Red Cross FREE Citizen Preparedness Corps training sessions entitled Prepare, Respond, Recover: What to do When Disaster Strikes.

The Citizen Preparedness Corps training program was initiated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide residents with the knowledge and tools to prepare for emergencies and disasters, respond accordingly, and recover to pre-disaster conditions as quickly as possible.

For the training, a Red Cross representative conducts an approximately two-hour session of the Citizen Preparedness Corps training program, which provides a comprehensive overview on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters.

Please contact Jim Jacobs, Director of Facilities III, 343-2480 x1013, if interested. If enough people express interest, the Batavia City School District will schedule and announce the training.

Lost child found in the middle of the street downtown on Holland Avenue

By Philip Anselmo

BATAVIA, N.Y. — We're following reports coming through on the scanner right now of a young child, approximately 4-years-old, who was found walking around in the middle of the street in downtown Batavia. Officers on scene report that the child is asking for his mother and father, neither of whom are reported to be in the area.

Update (Friday at 9:04 a.m.): The parents of the lost child have been identified and further investigation into the incident will be shared between Child Protective Services and Batavia city police, Lt. Eugene Jankowski said in an e-mail this morning. It is not known if charges will be placed at this time. No names have yet been released. The investigation is ongoing.

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.

County eyes three potential providers to replace city of Batavia ambulance

By Philip Anselmo

BATAVIA, N.Y. — Three potential ambulance providers are being talked about to replace the city of Batavia ambulance service, which will cease to operate as of September 1, according to the Daily News.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell told a group of municipal representatives from across the county last night that Rural Metro Corp., Twin City Ambulance and Monroe Ambulance would "likely" submit proposals to the county to take over service.

Explains Joanne Beck in that article:

Volunteer fire companies would still have a role ... and would be able to respond to emergencies and do some transports unless the provider specifically asks for every transport. UMMC has offered space to house ambulances of the future provider and that provider would set itself up as a business, Gsell said. It would make its money by charging customers for each service call. There isn't to be any type of fee charged to the municipality, he said.

Rural Metro is a nationwide corporation whose stock currently trades at $1.25 per share with a six-month high of $2.50 coming at the end of September. The company operates out of 22 states in the continental U.S.

From the company's Web site:

What began with one man's vision has grown today into a company with approximately $500 million in annual revenues and more than 8,000 employees who provide health and safety services throughout the United States. Annually, Rural/Metro's employees respond to more than 1 million calls for assistance.

Monroe Ambulance is a 34-year-old service that operates out of Rochester. From the mission statement:

Monroe Ambulance provides Advanced Life Support with area volunteer ambulance and fire departments, ensuring that patients who live in outlying areas have access to all of our life saving paramedic services. This includes back-up Advanced Life Support to area volunteer agencies, fire departments, and ambulance corps.

We provide medically supervised transports for patients needing transport with minimal assistance (i.e., patients able to move, sit, and walk on their own with slight assistance, such as those traveling home from same day surgery).

We are seeking information on staffing levels for Monroe.

Twin City Ambulance is based in Erie County and serves the suburban Buffalo area. More than 200 technicians make up its core staff.

Twin City was in the news a few years back over a controversial call not to send an ambulance to assist two policemen who had been shot in Buffalo. Critics claimed the call was a callous rejection. Company representatives said that the call was outside the ambulance crew's service area. That report:

We're seeking further information from Gsell on the logistics of having an outside company take over the ambulance service for the county. We will provide those details as they become available.

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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Car fire reported in LeRoy

By Philip Anselmo

We've received reports of a car fire on Munson Street in downtown LeRoy near Genesee Valley BOCES. Emergency crews have been dispatched, but I would steer clear of driving through that area for the next hour or so.

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Corfu man will be charged in brutal murder of Pembroke man

By Philip Anselmo

PEMBROKE, N.Y. — A Corfu man who was found walking along North Lake Road in Pembroke soaked in "fresh blood" will be charged with the murder of a Pembroke man who was found bludgeoned to death in the driveway of his home early this morning, Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha said.

Scott F. Doll, 46, of 31 E. Main St., Corfu, will be charged with a felony count of second-degree murder in the death of Joseph E. Benaquist, 66, of 683 Knapp Road, Pembroke.

Deputies received a call last night at approximately 8:41 p.m. with reports of a "suspicious person" walking down North Lake Road in Pembroke. The individual, later identified as Doll, was "dressed all in camouflage" and carrying a car jack, a screwdriver and a lug wrench. When deputies arrived, they noticed that Doll's "clothes and sneakers were pretty well stained in what looked like fresh blood," said Maha.

"They asked him what was going on ... and the person was really quite evasive" said Maha. "The officers knew something wasn't right."

Deputies then determined that Doll had parked a van at a gas station on the corner of North Lake Road and Route 5. They found more blood inside the van and a pair of bloody gloves.

"So we had this person who was acting suspicious who had blood on him, so of course, we didn't buy his story, what he was telling us," said Maha. "So we started an investigation."

A relative of Doll's made comments that led officers to the home of Benaquist who was found dead "lying in a pool of blood in his driveway." Benaquist appeared to have suffered blunt trauma to the face and head.

Doll and Benaquist were acquaintances and "in business together" in an auto dealership that Maha believed to be located in Pembroke. The two men would purchase vehicles from an auction in Clarence, fix them up and then sell them, said Maha.

Doll is currently employed as a corrections officer at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, Erie County. Benaquist had retired from the same facility, where he also worked as a corrections officer.

Maha said it is too early in the investigation to believe that the auto dealership was the cause of the homicide. No neighbors had reported a fight between the two men last night. But Benaquist's home is "out in the country," said Maha, at least a hundred yards from its nearest neigbor.

Doll has "at least" two children, plus a sister and a brother who live in the area, said Maha. Doll was sent to Genesee County Jail without bail.

The investigation is ongoing. We will get up video coverage of the press conference within the hour.

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State police arrest trespassers at site of Flight 3407 crash in Clarence

By Philip Anselmo

State police have made several arrests after setting up a permiter patrol at the site of the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Clarence Center.

On Friday morning, police charged Thomas Woodman, 19, of Clarence, with trespassing. Troopers located Woodman allegedly hiding behind a residence on Long Road, where he was attempting to video tape the crash site.

That same day, in the afternoon, Paul R. Brenton, 63, of Clarence, was charged with disorderly conduct. Brenton is accused of wandering into the restricted area while he was allegedly intoxicated. He had to be restrained, according to police, to be kept from entering the crash site.

State police also reported that a third individual was charged with a DWI at a roadblock set up nearby.

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."

Smoke reported inside building at Stella's Collision in LeRoy - Updated

By Philip Anselmo

We've received reports of a possible fire at Stella's Collision on East Main Road in LeRoy. Reports on the scanner indicate smoke in the building. Fire crews from LeRoy, Caledonia and Pavilion have been dispatched. We will update as more information becomes available. 

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Update (11:45 a.m.): Additional manpower has been requested to the scene as a second alarm was just sounded over the scanner.

Update (1:05 p.m.): LeRoy dispatch reports that all crews have returned to base. No fire was present on scene. Firefighters reported a haze in the building that was not exactly smoke, but the cause of the disturbance has not yet been identified.

Road conditions deteriorate quickly in Genesee County and environs

By Philip Anselmo

Roads around Genesee County are getting ever worse throughout the day today. Snow and rain have added to the already bloated mix of melted ice and snow from yesterday. Some roads are barely navigable at this time. Add to that the winds that are bringing down power lines across the region, and you've got a messy situation out there.

In the past half hour, we've heard of two reports of downed wires over the scanner.

Poles and wires have come down on Molasses Hill Road near Chaddock Road in Alexander. Another pole along with wires are blocking a roadway in Attica. We haven't yet got the report on that exact location, but crews are out trying to get things cleaned up as quickly as possible.

Conditions are even worse in Wyoming County, where the winds are whipping even more fiercely. Dan Fischer reports that the office of emergency management there has put out a general travel advisory for motorists. It reads: "Caution should be used when traveling in Wyoming Co. due to damage from high winds including downed utility poles and power lines. Be prepared to seek alternate routes as some roads have been closed due to blockage."

You can find out more on area closings by visiting the WBTA Web site.

False alarm evacuates buildings at GCC Batavia campus

By Philip Anselmo

A faulty alarm caused an evacuation at Genesee Community College's Batavia campus this morning. Rick Ensman, director of external affairs at the college, told us by phone that the alarm sounded some time around 9:50 a.m.

"It was a faulty alarm head," he said. "We're not sure why it got set off, but we did clear the buildings and alert the fire authorities just as a precaution. The alarm head is back working, and we've got everybody back in now."

Ensman said he didn't know what could have caused the false alarm. It could have been dust, something in the air, or just an old head, he said. "There was no actual emergency."

People were allowed back in the buildings approximately 20 minutes after the alarm sounded and the administration got the OK.

"It was just a report in the C building," said Ensman. "So the technology and arts buildings and the arts center were clear. So we were able to move people inside pretty quickly."

And that's a good thing. It's not the kind of day to be standing around outside.

Truck stuck under bridge on Cedar Street in Batavia

By Philip Anselmo

We received this image of a truck stuck under an overpass on Cedar Street yesterday evening from one of our readers. The photo was taken by Brandon Fegley from inside a car.

A story this morning on the Daily News site informs us that this incident slowed up traffic on Cedar Street for an hour.

The driver got stuck when he “failed to obey” posted signs stating the bridge’s height, Sgt. Dave Kleinbach said. The 13.6-foot-tall truck attempted to drive under the 12.3-foot-tall bridge, he said.

Police were called to the scene at 12:20 p.m. and remained there for about an hour to close one lane and redirect traffic. The driver was issued a ticket for failing to obey a traffic control device, Kleinbach said.

FAA investigates plane rollover at LeRoy Airport

By Philip Anselmo

Investigators out of the Rochester division of the FAA will look into the accident at the LeRoy Airport over the weekend, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Sixty-one-year-old Peter Bonneau, of Rochester, was landing his single-engine Cessna in LeRoy Friday morning when his plane flipped over the end of the runway.

Bonneau was coming in from the Monroe County Airport on a recreational flight when he attempte to touch down on the runway and wound up sliding off the northern edge and into a snow embankment. From there, the craft continued on in the snow until it slowed and overturned, deputies said. Bonneau was fortunately uninjured.

Standoff subject in LeRoy was being investigated for videotaping children

By Philip Anselmo

A man who was found dead in his home earlier today following a police standoff in the village of LeRoy was being investigated for "unlawful videotaping of underage persons," village police said this hour.

The man's identity is still being witheld pending notification of his next of kin. He lived at 128 Lake Street in LeRoy, where the apparent suicide took place earlier today. Please see our earlier post for the rest of the details.

Updated (6:06 p.m.): Village police have identified the man who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound today as 38-year-old Cary M. Felgenhauer of 128 Lake St., LeRoy.

LeRoy man found dead inside his home following police standoff

By Philip Anselmo

A 38- or 39-year-old man who has not yet been identified was found dead inside his home of a gunshot wound following a police standoff outside the Lake Street residence, according to LeRoy Chief of Police Christopher Hayward. Police will not yet comment if the wound was self-inflicted, though Hawyard said that it does not seem to be otherwise.

Hayward explained that village officers went to the home at 128 Lake Street at 10:30 a.m. to execute a search warrant. When the officers approached, they heard a gunshot and immediately backed off to "establish a perimeter." Assistance was requested from the state police, county sheriff personnel and the city of Batavia's Emergency Response Team. A robot was also brought to the scene to enter the residence and establish contact with the individual believed to be inside.

Police attempted to enter the residence with the robot, but it was unable to negotiate the "layout" of the home. Entry was made by the SWAT team into the home some time before 1 o'clock and officers found the individual inside dead from a gunshot wound.

Residents in the homes adjacent to the property were all evacuated, but they have since been allowed to return to their homes, said Hayward.

"What brought us here, the investigation itself, was less than 24 hours old," said Hayward, adding that the individual in question was "not known" to himself prior to this incident, indicating no prior criminal history. "It would not be appropriate to comment at this point."

Hayward also declined to comment on the nature of the search warrant.

"I don't want to leave it open to speculation as to why we were there."

We are expecting more information on the incident later today. We will report it as it becomes available.

Chief Hayward:

Standoff in downtown LeRoy

By Philip Anselmo

LeRoy village police are expected to hold a press conference at 1 o'clock today at the Village Hall on the "police incident" that has been ongoing since this morning. At last report, police were prepared to enter a home on Lake Street where an individual is believed to be holed up inside with a weapon. A robot was going to be used to enter the premises, but reports on the scanner indicated the robot was not functioning.

We will have more on this as it becomes available. Video of the press conference will be available later this afternoon.

Lake Street (Route 19) between Main Street and West Bergen Road is still closed at this hour.

Route 19 shut down in LeRoy for unknown "police incident": Updated

By Philip Anselmo

We're trying to get information on a "police incident" in the village of LeRoy that's got county-wide attention at this hour. The "incident" has closed down Lake Street (Route 19) in the village between Main Street (Route 5) and West Bergen Road. LeRoy police are handling the situation, we've been told. However, we were unable to get any more details. A LeRoy dispatcher informed us that she was too busy to talk about what was happening. We will keep on this throughout the afternoon.

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Update (11:48 a.m.): Dan Fischer reports on the WBTA Web site that the incident is near the 100 block of Lake Street (Route 19), and that homes adjacent to the property inquestion have been evacuated.

UPDATE (12:07 p.m. by Howard): Dan Fischer just said there were reports of shots fired this morning, but whether shots were fired are unconfirmed.  Philip is headed to the media staging area and will report from the scene.

UPDATE (12:32 p.m. by Howard): Dan Fischer reports that one person with a weapon is believed holed up in a home on Lake Road.

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