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POLICE & COURTS

DWI suspect, 23, arrested after crash; passenger hurt

A suspected drunken driver was arrested early Sunday in Port Colborne, Ont., after the car he was driving crashed into a ditch and became airborne, seriously injuring a 19-year-old passenger, Niagara Regional Police reported.

Trevor Vitali, 23, was charged with impaired driving and refusing a blood sample request shortly after the 4:22 a.m. crash. Vitali was treated in Welland County Hospital for minor injuries and released pending a court date in July, police said.

His passenger suffered life-threatening injuries and was flown to Hamilton General Hospital, where she was in critical condition later Sunday.

The vehicle, a 2004 Nissan 350z, was southbound on Miller Road toward Highway 3 in Port Colborne when it went out of control, struck a driveway culvert and landed on its roof, police said.

The crash remains under investigation by Niagara Regional Police. Witnesses are asked to contact (905) 688-4111, Ext. 5500, with information.

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Three Falls break-ins target tourists' cars

NIAGARA FALLS -- First it was copper thefts, then grocery shoppers being targeted by covert crooks. The latest crime wave to grip the city is car break-ins, and police were kept busy Sunday morning investigating three more, all of which targeted tourists.

A Pennsylvania man's car was entered between 11:15 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. Sunday while parked at the Aquarium of Niagara on Whirlpool Street. Police said someone pried a window off and stole a diaper bag containing baby clothing, as well as a laptop computer. The stolen items were valued at $2,200.

A Michigan man was touring the falls area between 10:45 a.m. and noon when his car was broken into while parked in the 200 block of Rainbow Boulevard. A bag containing his laptop, an iPod and a diabetic meter was stolen. Loss was estimated at $1,400.

Two Ohio women were victimized at about the same time. Their car was parked in the 100 block of Buffalo Avenue when someone broke out a window and stole a wallet containing 10 credit cards and a purse with seven more cards, as well as $570 in cash.

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Woman sexually assaulted during Falls break-in

NIAGARA FALLS -- Two masked men may have been looking for drugs when they burst into a Byrd Avenue home early Sunday, attacking and sexually assaulting a female resident while her young son slept in a crib in an adjacent room.

The victim told city police she heard a knock at her door at about 2 a.m. and, thinking it was her boyfriend, unlocked the door. The two assailants came in, hitting her over the head with an unknown object and knocking her to the floor. She threw a pot of macaroni and cheese she had been cooking at the men, to no avail.

The men then began ransacking rooms, emptying cupboards and overturning mattresses. At one point, they doused the woman with household cleaner, causing her to swallow some, before sexually assaulting her, she told police.

Police said every room of the house had been ransacked, including the room in which the unhurt child slept. The victim was taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

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Sheriff's road patrols charge six with DWI

Erie County sheriff's road patrols charged six people over the weekend with driving while intoxicated.

Richard Planavsky, 65, of Grand Island, was arrested on Broadway in that town at 2 a.m. Saturday, Deputy Rich O'Neil reported. O'Neil said Planavsky was driving erratically and also was charged with obstruction of governmental administration because he refused to exit his vehicle for field sobriety testing. Planavsky refused all sobriety testing, the deputy said.

Kenneth E. Charsley, 26, of Amherst, was charged with DWI, traffic infractions, marijuana possession and aggravated unlicensed operation at 4:15 a.m. Saturday on Transit Road in Clarence.

A half-hour later, on William Street in Lancaster, Sara B. Hackett-Brior, 20, of Lancaster, was charged with DWI and traffic infractions.

Deputy Don Hoelscher was able to locate a vehicle on Main Street in Springville that was involved in a property damage crash at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday in North Collins. Hoelscher arrested Dennis R. Hayden, 43, of Springville, and charged him with DWI and traffic infractions. Hayden's blood-alcohol content was 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit, Hoelscher reported.

Also on Main Street in Springville, at about 1:20 a.m. Sunday, Gary D. Maruska, 40, of Scottsville, was charged with DWI and traffic infractions, deputies said, and at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, motorcyclist Michael J. Knight, 39, of West Seneca, was charged on Transit Road in Elma with speeding and DWI. Knight refused to submit to a breath test, deputies said.

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Birdshot from shotgun strikes boy in the back

Birdshot fired Sunday afternoon from a shotgun on Lasalle Avenue in the city's University Heights neighborhood struck a boy in the back and left arm, according to Buffalo police.

The boy, whose name and age were unavailable, was taken to Erie County Medical Center.