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Ex-boxer charged in hit-run injuring two teens

A former professional boxer faces multiple charges in the City of Tonawanda in connection with a hit-and-run accident that injured two young pedestrians near Niawanda Park on Thursday night.

Leslie "Les" Ralston, 32, of Cheektowaga, spoke to officers Thursday night, showed up at the police station about 11:30 a.m. and then appeared for arraignment on charges of second-degree felony assault, aggravated unlicensed operation for driving without a license and three misdemeanor counts of leaving the scene of an accident. He pleaded not guilty and is being held in Erie County Holding Center on $10,000 bail.

Ralston is accused of hitting two teenagers who were crossing Niagara Street at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Detective Timothy Toth said. They were struck in the vicinity of police headquarters.

One of the teens was dragged about 200 feet by Ralston's vehicle, before Ralston drove off, Police Chief John F. Ivancic said.

Minutes after that, a male passenger who was riding in Ralston's car jumped out of his moving car because he was "upset" by Ralston's actions, police said.

"The passenger was upset by what happened. He was injured when he jumped out, and he talked to us about it. Much of the information about what happened, we got from him," said Capt. Lori Rank.

"He didn't want to get in any trouble, so he bailed out of the car," Ivancic added.

Both of the teenagers and the passenger, who is 42, suffered injuries and were treated at Erie County Medical Center. None of the injuries was serious enough to require staying overnight at the hospital, Rank said, and police have not released the names of any of the three injured people.

The two teens who were hurt were a boy, 18, and a girl, 16, both from the City of Tonawanda. They were crossing Niagara Street at Bouck Street, near police headquarters, when they were hit by Ralston's car, according to police.,

"It's too bad people only think about themselves and the trouble that they're in rather than the condition of the people they've injured," said Ivancic.

Ralston, who is represented by attorney Andrew C. LoTempio, was in contact with police Thursday night, and he turned himself in late Friday morning, officers said.

"We're going to take steps to compensate [the victims] for their injuries," LoTempio said outside the courtroom.

A middleweight, Ralston had a career as a professional boxer, but has since taken a job in construction.

His father, James "Jimmy" Ralston is also a former professional boxer.

Ralston is scheduled to appear in Tonawanda City Court at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for a felony hearing, authorities said. According to law enforcement records, Leslie Ralston was charged with DWI in 2009, when he was stopped at a Niagara Falls checkpoint.

News Staff Reporter Charlie Specht contributed to this report.

email: dherbeck@buffnews.com