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DUI cited as Wales head-on crash kills girl, 9

A Marilla man who allegedly was driving under the influence of drugs has been charged in a head-on crash that killed a 9-year-old girl and critically injured the other driver Tuesday afternoon in Wales.

Mark W. Korzelius, 52, was charged by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office with second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving while impaired by drugs, authorities said Wednesday.

Gail L. Hoffman, 57, of South Wales, a longtime friend of the girl’s family, who was driving a van struck by Korzelius’ pickup truck, was listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Erie County Medical Center.

The girl, who has not been identified, died Tuesday in Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo. Her 7-year-old sister, also a passenger, was not hospitalized.

Korzelius’ truck collided with the van in a residential section of Two Rod Road, near Route 20A, where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour, according to Erie County sheriff’s investigators.

Korzelius, who was not reported injured, faces felony charges that, upon conviction could result in prison terms of four to seven years. He was arraigned Wednesday evening in Wales Town Court. The investigation is continuing, and more charges may be brought against Korzelius, authorities said.

The Sheriff’s Office was seeking warrants to inspect the truck and review Korzelius’ medical records.

Scott M. Joslyn, chief of police services for the Sheriff’s Office, asked for thoughts and prayers for the families. “I’m a father of four. I can’t imagine anything worse than this,” he said at a news conference Wednesday. “When we deal with the loss of such a young, precious life, it’s very difficult.”

The crash remains under investigation, he said. “There’s no indication that speed played a factor,” Joslyn said. “Everybody was properly seated and buckled.”

Wales Supervisor Rickey A. Venditti described roads in the town as normally safe. “You would not expect this type of accident to happen there,” he said. “My heart goes out to the family.”