Buffalo Police have called in experts from New York State Police to help them investigate a deadly crash involving one of their own. An officer was on his way to a call when he was involved in a crash that killed a woman in north Buffalo, according to police.
The accident happened around 6:30 Friday morning on Hertel Avenue and Tennyson Avenue, just east of Delaware.
According to Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo, a six-year veteran of the force was headed east down Hertel, responding to a call on Starin Avenue.
Rinaldo could not say where the woman was walking when she was hit. The investigation “…will determine the direction of travel, speed of the vehicle, so at this point I would be guessing to give you those kinds of details. We know the woman does live in the neighborhood,” Rinaldo told reporters during a morning news conference.
The victim was later identified by family members as 64-year-old Susan Lotempio.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Joseph Lotempio, Susan’s husband. “A wonderful, beautiful woman is taken from us now.”
Lotempio said his wife was accustomed to taking regular early morning walks in the area.
“I go for a coffee, get a paper, and then on the way back, I see Hertel blocked off with all kinds of ambulances and police cars,” he said. “I got a funny feeling right there.”
“She does everything for her husband,” said John Byrne, who knows the couple and rushed to the scene after the crash occurred. “She always made him his lunch. Without his lunch, he’s miserable.”
“Oh yeah,” Lotempio agreed. “She did everything for me. She’d cut the grass. She shoveled snow. She told me what to wear. She did everything for me. It was just amazing.”
The officer is cooperating with the ongoing investigation. “We have started our internal investigation. We have been in touch with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and we have summoned in the NY State Police Accident Investigation Unit to conduct to the traffic investigation at this point, for 100% transparency,” Captain Rinaldo explained.
He didn’t say whether the officer had his emergency lights or siren on.
“I don’t know if he had his lights on or his sirens, but if he did, she would have heard him,” Joseph Lotempio said. “He might have just ran a red light. I don’t know. But I have a lawyer looking into all of that now.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office is also opening up an investigation into the crash.
“We’re committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive, and fair investigation,” said Amy Spitalnick, spokesperson for the attorney general.
Hertel Avenue was closed between Delaware and Tennyson for several hours, and reopened just before noon.