Daniel S. McParlane’s car crossed over the center line and into the path of an oncoming motorist on Indian Church Road in West Seneca early in the morning of Nov. 27, causing a crushing T-bone collision that resulted in the town Democratic chairman’s death and a drunken driving charge against the other driver.
In accident investigation reports and other documents The Buffalo News obtained Wednesday through a Freedom of Information request, West Seneca police indicate Robert J. Styn Jr., 62, of Buffalo, told them he was traveling west on Indian Church Road shortly after midnight when McParlane spun into his lane of traffic near Mineral Springs Road. Styn said he tried to veer to the right but could not avoid the collision.
An accident diagram and police reports show Styn’s car smashed into the passenger side of McParlane’s car, deploying air bags in both vehicles.
The reports also show McParlane, 33, was not wearing a seat belt, was unconscious and bleeding severely from the head when Union Fire Company volunteers arrived on the scene and found him trapped in his car. They removed him from the vehicle and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance crew arrived.
Police documents also revealed that Michelle M. Gilson, 54, of Buffalo, was a passenger in Styn’s car and was taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment.
The documents further show McParlane was pronounced dead shortly before 1 a.m. in Mercy Hospital. An autopsy report listed the cause of death as multiple injuries.
Meanwhile, the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that toxicology tests were performed on McParlane – though no results are immediately available, and District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III has indicated the possibility they may not be divulged because of privacy law restrictions.
Styn was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated after breath tests administered at West Seneca Police Headquarters registered a 0.21 percent blood alcohol content, nearly three times the legal limit.
West Seneca police have yet to answer questions regarding McParlane, an Erie County sheriff’s deputy, such as whether he had been drinking and, if so, how much. Earlier in the evening, McParlane attended a meeting of the Erie County Democratic Town Chairs Association in Curly’s Restaurant, Lackawanna, and then met with Legislator-elect Patrick B. Burke in a South Buffalo pub.
They also have not answered any questions about what may have caused McParlane to veer into Styn’s path, though their documents report a “moderate” snowfall, and their only public statement on the accident, issued late on Nov. 27, indicates weather conditions may have contributed to the collision.
Styn is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in West Seneca Town Court.
Details of the crash were disclosed more than two weeks later only after the West Seneca Police Department required The News to submit a legal document known as a Freedom of Information request. The documents’ disclosure made public for the first time several of details, including the recovery of “black box” devices from both vehicles that could reveal important information relating to speed and other factors.
West Seneca Police Chief Daniel M. Denz, after initially refusing to release any of the documents, was not available to comment Wednesday to answer further questions on the accident.
Town Supervisor Sheila A. Meegan did not return a call about the town’s disclosure procedures regarding public documents.
Sedita also confirmed that toxicology tests were performed on the victim and reiterated that it remains “standard operating procedure to charge DWI and then see where the evidence takes you for manslaughter.”
He called it a “pretty tricky thing” in many cases to prove that a drunken driver caused a death and that several factors – including toxicology reports – will “enter into the calculus” regarding the possibility of future charges.
The district attorney also said last week he has requested the case be presented to a grand jury to preserve his right to lodge additional charges following further investigation.