Niagara Gazette

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January 10, 2013

Falls motorcyclist pleads guilty in fatal crash

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — The motorcyclist who crashed into three people in early November, killing two women and injuring a man, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of vehicular manslaughter and assault charges before Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang.

David A. Smith, 53, of 1313 Roselle Ave., Niagara Falls, will face a minimum of one to three years in prison and a maximum of 15 years when he is sentenced on March 14, according to Kelley A. Omel, head of the county's Vehicular Crimes Bureau.

Smith pleaded guilty to charged of first-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree vehicular assault and DWI Thursday with the assistance of his defense attorney Joel L. Daniels, who did not return repeated calls to make a comment.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office said the charges are higher than those that were initially levied against him after the accident, which took place Nov. 11. He was then arraigned on two counts of criminally negligent homicide and DWI.

Thursday, Smith admitted that he lost control of his motorcycle while driving intoxicated on Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, drove off the road onto the bike path and caused the death of 26-year-old Jocelyn Elberson, of Tonawanda, and 81-year-old Sheila Pelton, of East Amherst, as well as causing serious physical injury to 79-year-old Foster Pelton. 

The crash took place between Campbell Boulevard and Hopkins Road, in a stretch where the bike path runs parallel to the road.

Smith was transported to the hospital for minimal injuries and was discharged days later.

Elberson and Sheila Pelton were transported to Millard Fillmore Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. Foster Pelton was transported to Erie County Medical Center with serious injuries. He was released from the hospital Nov. 27. 

The accident took place at around 3:20 p.m. on an unseasonably warm, sunny day in November. Jocelyn Elberson was on a walk with her new puppy, mother, Kathleen, and aunt.

“My mother and aunt stopped to talk for a moment, and Jocelyn kept walking,” Brett Elberson, Jocelyn’s brother said in November. “In less than a second, the motorcycle came out and hit her. He never tried to stop, never tried to swerve.”

Smith is being held without bail at Erie County Medical Center. 

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