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Officer, shoplifting suspect suffer hypothermia after chase into Cazenovia Creek

A West Seneca police officer and a shoplifting suspect were both treated for hypothermia Sunday after the woman ran into Cazenovia Creek to avoid being arrested and he went in to pull her to safety, West Seneca Police said.

Police said the incident began at 11:31 a.m. when loss prevention officers at the Tops Friendly Market on Orchard Park Road called them to report that they were chasing a woman suspected of shoplifting cosmetics from the store. The Tops employees told police that they were following the woman, described as wearing a blue shirt and black pants, as she crossed Orchard Park Road and headed for Wegmans.

When police made contact with her in the Wegmans parking lot, they said she ran from the lot into the tall grass along the bank of Cazenovia Creek. Although police warned her to stop running and not to go into the water, she went into the creek, police said.

At first, the water was just above her knees and the woman was able to wade, but police said the current knocked her down and she began to struggle in the water.

That's when Officer John Lake entered the water and pulled the woman onto the creek bank. She was identified as Dana L. Smith of Cheektowaga.

Medics from AMR ambulance and firefighters from Seneca Hose Co. assisted the two in the parking lot of the Seneca Manor Health Care Center on Seneca Street, across the creek from where the pursuit began.

Smith and Lake were taken in separate ambulances to South Buffalo Mercy Hospital for evaluation and treatment of hypothermia and some abrasions, police said.

Police plan to charge Smith with petit larceny in the shoplifting incident, as well as resisting arrest and felony first-degree reckless endangerment, they said.

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