Niagara Gazette

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September 17, 2008

WEDNESDAY: NT woman drives wrong way on TCMH (1:27 p.m.)

A North Tonawanda woman faces drug and drunken driving charges after driving the wrong way on the Twin City Memorial Highway and striking another vehicle almost head on Wednesday morning.

City of Tonawanda police charged Linda M. Brandel, 48, of 20 Mead St., with driving while ability impaired by drugs, driving while intoxicated and crossing the divider. Brandel was taken to DeGraff Memorial Hospital, where she was being treated by hospital staff as a drug overdose.

The accident occurred at about 5:57 a.m. Wednesday, when Brandel drove her Chevy Malibu southbound in the northbound lanes of the Twin City Highway. She struck the front quarterpanel of a Ford Expedition being driven by Niagara County Coroner Joseph V. Mantione. Mantione told police he swerved to avoid a head-on collision.

Lt. Fredric Foels said the situation could have been much worse. “We could have had a fatal this morning,” he said. “At that hour, the darkness, the speed. It was scary.”

Officers responding to the scene didn’t smell alcohol on Brandel’s breath, but noted she did exhibit signs of intoxication. Brandel allegedly admitted to popping several hydrocodone pills before operating her vehicle, police said.

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