A snow-covered stop sign at one of Erie County's highest elevations resulted in a two-vehicle crash Friday afternoon that seriously injured an Erie County sheriff's deputy and also injured the other motorist, sheriff's officials reported.
Deputy Stephen Cryan, 44, a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, was listed in stable condition and was being released from the X-ray room in Erie County Medical Center late Friday in preparation for admittance to the trauma intensive care unit.
"He has several broken ribs, a punctured lung, cracked clavicle and a dislocated shoulder," said Sheriff's Chief Dennis Rankin.
Cryan was eastbound on Omphalius Road in his marked sheriff's cruiser approaching the intersection with Cole Road in the Town of Boston at about 1:20 p.m. Friday, according to the department.
Cryan didn't see the snow-covered stop sign in the bright sunshine until he was nearly upon the intersection, sheriff's officials said. He collided with a vehicle driven by Michael Campbell, 55, of Colden.
"He did realize it was there but he realized it too late," Rankin said. "The front of his patrol car was already in the intersection. The impact from the two vehicles sent our patrol vehicle onto a pole and then it flipped over onto its roof."
Cryan was pinned inside unconscious for a short period of time. He was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.
Campbell was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he received stitches for head and facial injuries, sheriff's officials said. He was listed in good condition late Friday.
Rankin said Cryan, who is assigned to a special unit for domestic violence, was on routine patrol but was not in an area he normally patrols, which might have led to his unfamiliarity with the Omphalius intersection.
Sheriff's officials conceded that Campbell clearly had the right of way. Only Omphalius has a stop sign at that intersection.
Besides the stop sign, the "stop ahead" signs eastbound on Omphalius were also fully whited out by snow, according to sheriff's reports.
It is unlikely Cryan was speeding, sheriff's officials said, based upon his reputation among fellow deputies as being a slow and cautious driver.
Both drivers were wearing seat belts and the airbags in both vehicles deployed.
"It's just an unfortunate accident," Rankin said.