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LEGAL STORM BREWING OVER FATAL ACCIDENT

The attorney for an Amherst youth who survived the Jan. 14 triple-fatality accident on Niagara Falls Boulevard has asked to see police reports on the incident.

The demand is the first signal of an expected multimillion-dollar lawsuit on behalf of the four accident victims. However, one of those involved stressed Tuesday that attorneys have yet to determine all those who may have been responsible for the deaths.

Joel B. Schechter, who represents 17-year-old James McCabe, the sole pedestrian who survived the accident, confirmed that he asked a State Supreme Court judge for access to police reports as part of what he calls "pre-action discovery" in the case.

"This is simply a discovery proceeding. . . . It's simply to determine who the potential defendants are," Schechter said.

The request is also being closely monitored by attorneys representing the three youths killed in the accident -- Charlene Sewar, 17, of Lockport, and Amy DiNatale and Christopher Rogalski, both 16, of Amherst.

"We understand that the Amherst police conducted a very extensive investigation. . . . We're all interested in the police investigation reports," said Dan Lukasik, who represents Sewar's estate.

Schechter's motion is expected to be argued before State Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita Jr. on March 13. In the meantime, he said he expected to be meeting with Amherst Town Attorney Phillip A. Thielman to determine what records police will volunteer to make available.

Amherst, which had no excess liability insurance at the time of the accident, also could become a defendant in any court action because officials acknowledge the town did not enforce its ordinance calling for property owners to clear sidewalks of ice and snow.

At the time of the accident, the victims were walking in the street because sidewalks in the area were clogged with snow and ice, police say.

The four youths were struck on the evening of Jan. 14 when a car being driven by Jeffrey W. Kramer, 26, of Glenhaven Drive, spun out of control in the northbound lanes of Niagara Falls Boulevard near Hennepin Road.

Kramer has pleaded not guilty to charges of imprudent speed and failing to use due care.

However, Schechter declined to confirm that the Town of Amherst may be included in any lawsuit.

"We want to know what the (police) investigation consisted of. We want to see the photos and videotapes. We want to know who the defendants in any lawsuit might be," he said.

According to Lukasik, other attorneys in the case are also expecting to share in any information gathered by Schechter.

"We want the complete investigation. . . . We want videotapes showing any snow," he said.

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