A renowned Buffalo defense attorney and his wife were killed Wednesday afternoon when their van was broadsided by a driver who ran a red light at a high rate of speed, Hamburg town police reported.
John W. Condon Jr., 86, and his wife, Joan, 79, were traveling east on Sowles Road at about 12:40 p.m. As they passed through a green light at South Park Avenue, they were hit by a van driven by Stanley J. Jedrysik Jr., 82, of Hamburg.
Witnesses told police Jedrysik's van was traveling south on South Park Avenue and did not appear to have made any effort to slow down as it approached the intersection, Hamburg Lt. Michael Lavelle said.
Joan Condon, who was driving the Condon van, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, where he died at about 2 p.m.
Police said preliminary indications suggest there was no medical condition contributing to the crash. "[Jedrysik] said he doesn't remember the accident," Lavelle said.
Jedrysik was in serious condition Wednesday night in ECMC with a reported head injury. He was charged with passing a red light, imprudent speed, reckless driving and not wearing a seat belt. Further charges are pending, Lavelle said.
It's the second time in less than two weeks that tragedy marred this stretch of South Park Avenue. Just down the road, Meghan Sorbera, a 19-year-old Hilbert College student, was killed by a hit-and-run driver early on Oct. 18. Hamburg attorney John Duffy has been charged.
Wednesday's crash -- and word of Condon's untimely death -- sent new and entirely different shock waves through the area legal community.
Although retired, Condon -- who was widely regarded for his prowess as a trial attorney for more than 40 years -- stayed very much involved in legal circles and was a Bar Association of Erie County lector and instructor at the University at Buffalo Law School.
"John was one of the icons of the Buffalo legal scene," said Joseph M. LaTona, a prominent Buffalo lawyer who, at the dawn of his legal career in the 1970s, partnered with Condon. "He gave 100 percent of his talents and his tenacity for his clients."
Condon represented The Allman Brothers Band, Anthony F. Franjoine, Edward Beaufort-Cutner and others in numerous high-profile defense cases.
LaTona said he was a devoted advocate to the legal profession who was "ready, willing and able to share his experiences."
"He never was too busy to field a phone call from a younger lawyer, or any lawyer," LaTona said.
Pre-eminent local attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr. credited Condon with helping launch his own successful legal career.
"He was one of the established 'superstar' lawyers who actually gave me part of my start by sending me cases," Cambria said. "Over the years when John had conflicts, he used to refer [clients] to me and I used to refer mine to him."
Cambria called him "a magnificent lawyer" who had an excellent rapport with jurors thanks to his "common man" style.
"They could relate to him as a regular guy," Cambria said. "John had that ability to be 'the common man,' but he was far from that as an attorney."
A native Buffalonian, he was a 1939 Kensington High School graduate and served in Europe in World War II.
After the war, he graduated from Canisius College in 1947 and Albany Law School in 1950. He was admitted to practice law in New York in 1951 and, although he retired in 1994, he kept a current registration with the bar.
Condon was a founding member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 1958. He was named "Lawyer of the Year" in 1995 by the County Bar Association, an "outstanding practitioner" by the State Bar Association and "one of the nation's outstanding lawyers" by Town and Country magazine.
"He was a true gentleman," said Cambria.