Falls Police Traffic Division investigators are on the hunt for a suspect who drove a pickup truck into a crowd of people on 13th Street on Thursday night.
The driver struck a parked car, injuring two people inside, then hit a bystander and dragged that victim more than three blocks underneath his pickup.
“The driver of the pickup was traveling north on 13th Street in the 1600 block, when he jumped the curb, drove through the grass and over the sidewalk and into a large group of people who were milling around talking to the occupants of the car,” Traffic Division Capt. Salvatore Pino said. “Most of the people were able to scatter and avoid being hit, but (the pickup driver) did strike the parked car.”
After hitting the car, the pickup careened into Walt Garris, 50, of Ransomville, knocking him underneath the vehicle. The driver of the pickup then sped away from the crash scene.
“The victim’s clothing got caught on the undercarriage of the truck and he was dragged (from the 1600 block of 13th Street) to the corner of Lockport Road and South Avenue,” Pino said. “Somehow, at that point, he managed to get his clothing untangled from the undercarriage and rolled away from the truck into the street.”
Pino said officers found Garris, lying in a pool of blood, in the intersection. He was rushed to the Erie County Medical Center, where doctors said he was suffering from serious injuries to his head, face, eyes, back and ribs.
‘The doctors said he’ll not only survive but recover completely,” Pino said.
As crash reconstruction experts from the Traffic Division poured over the crime scene that stretched three and a half blocks, Pino said Patrol Officer Marsha Gee received a tip that the pickup might be in the 1000 block of Niagara Street.
Offices flooded the area and found the what they believed was the older model red pickup involved in the incident in the driveway of a house there.
“There was no driver in,” Pino said. “But we were able to confirm it was the truck we were looking for after finding pieces of clothing, hair and some blood on the undercarriage.”
Investigators said they have identified the owner of the truck and determined that he was not driving it at the time of the crash.
Anyone who has any information about the driver of the truck is asked to contract Traffic Division Officer Matt Illig, the lead investigator on the case, at 286-4563.
Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer
at 282-2311, ext. 2252.