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Neighbor describes horrific scene where 2 teens died on Niagara County road

WHEATFIELD – The man who lives at 6680 Shawnee Road said he didn’t feel much like talking Saturday morning after two young people were killed and another seriously injured right in front of his Wheatfield home.

In fact, he called it “the worst night of my life.”

Melanie Aronow, 18, of Amherst and Quincy Harper, 18, of Lockport were killed while walking on Shawnee Road early Saturday.

Quincy Byrd, 18, of Lockport, who was walking with them, was flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center.

A fourth pedestrian walking with the group was not injured.

“I had to help lift a car off one of them, the other lay dead right here at the end of my driveway,” the man said.

He would not give his name.

“To see a dad walk up and scream ‘That’s my daughter’ – well – that’s just about the worst.

“I can’t imagine that for any parent,” he added.

The car that the man lifted was not necessarily the vehicle that struck the pedestrians.

A southbound vehicle struck the three as they were walking northbound on Route 425. Neighbors and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office said parked cars lined both sides of the heavily traveled highway as a nearby home hosted a party, and that the southbound vehicle struck the trio as they walked along the fog line. The speed limit on the two-lane road is 55 mph.

The fourth member of the group, an unidentified male, was not hurt and immediately dialed 911, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The driver of the vehicle, Carly Marrs, 20, was taken to DeGraff Hospital in North Tonawanda for treatment of minor injuries.

Investigators said she was interviewed at the hospital and was “cooperative.” No charges have been filed, they said, though the investigation continues.

Later Saturday morning, signs of the tragedy remained in front of 6680 Shawnee. Debris that appeared to be part of a car fender littered the road, and the cattails growing from the ditch in front were crushed. A gash also appeared in the bank of the ditch.

A pair of glasses – which police could not verify belonged to one of victims – lay alongside the road.

Neighbors said police remained on the scene until about 7 a.m. as they investigated the accident.

The Sheriff’s Office Criminal Division and Accident Reconstruction team, along with the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the fatal crash.

“I got home about 11:30, and there were cars up and down the street. I could barely get in my driveway,” said Matt Rankie, who lives just down from the accident scene – a few hundred feet south of the Slusaric Road intersection.

He said he had just retired for the evening when he heard something that made him think one of his children had fallen out of bed. A few minutes later, he said police and firefighters accompanied by sirens and flashing lights began arriving.

“There were literally 50 kids huddled up out there,” he said of the accident’s aftermath. “It must have been a huge party, because the cars were just lined up.”

Jim Behnke, who lives at 6877 Shawnee, said he never heard the accident but learned of it when his wife woke him up soon after.

“She said ‘something’s going on out there,’ ” he recalled, adding investigators sealed the area with crime scene tape along the road that he said was closed to traffic all night long.

Neighbors said accidents occasionally occur along Shawnee. Behnke said a drunk driver plowed through his front yard and into his house a few years ago, and was apprehended after police discovered the imprint of the car’s license plate embedded in the outside wall.

“Cars fly by here,” Rankie added.

Another neighbor who would not give her name said the road is heavily traveled and she has seen a fair share of accidents during her five years in the area.

“This a rough road,” she said. “I think they need a light down there by the intersection.”

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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