A State Trooper pulled over Russ Fuller of Newfane as he drove his pickup truck along Ransom Road in Clarence Monday morning.
Just as Fuller pulled to the side of the road, he saw a sedan up ahead bang into a utility pole.
“It was not as loud as a gunshot, but it was a similar sound,” Fuller told The Buffalo News.
The sedan swung into a wet field and came to a dead stop more than 100 feet later.
“I was dumbfounded that the cop didn’t see it happen,” Fuller said.
So when the trooper approached Fuller’s car, Fuller told him about the crash up ahead and pointed to the sedan sitting in the field with the driver still inside. After seeing the impact, Fuller thought the driver would need immediate attention.
“I figured the cop would just pull around me and go help the guy,” he said.
But that’s not what happened.
Fuller said the officer instead examined Fuller’s motor vehicle paperwork for three or four minutes. Only then did he return to his patrol car, without writing a ticket, and head off to help the driver of the other car in the field.
“I just felt like his priorities weren’t straight,” Fuller said.
The driver, Gregory R. Giblim, 48, of Clarence, was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers suspect he died from a medical event, not the collision, because he had no external injuries. An investigation is ongoing.
James O’Callaghan, a State Police spokesman, said the trooper, whose name was not released, followed proper procedure because during a traffic stop “his safety and the safety of the vehicle pulled over is the top importance.”
He said Fuller pointed to a car off the road, but the trooper could not be certain it had been in an accident.
“The trooper was advised by Mr. Fuller that a vehicle was off the road,” O’Callaghan said. “The trooper saw the vehicle off the road, but for safety focused his attention on the traffic stop.
“Not in this case,” O’Callaghan continued, “but often people at a traffic stop will say things to get a trooper to start dealing with two decisions at once at an already dangerous part of the job. This could drop the focus of a trooper and give a suspect an opportunity to do harm.”
He said the trooper pulled Fuller over for having New York plates and a Pennsylvania registration. “Once Mr. Fuller supplied the proper documentation, the trooper let him go with no traffic tickets as that would have taken longer,” O’Callaghan said.
Fuller still thinks that responding to the crash was more crucial than the traffic stop.
“A life-and-death situation is way more important than a ticket,” he said.
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