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SECURED INFANT OK AFTER TRUCK REAR-ENDS CAR

A nine-ton stake truck traveling Tuesday afternoon on the Kensington Expressway rear-ended a car in which a 7-month-old baby was secured in the back seat, Cheektowaga police reported.

"Miraculously, nobody was seriously injured," said Officer Carl Hendel, an accident investigator.

The accident happened in the center eastbound lane, near the Harlem Road overpass, and was reported at 4:14 p.m. It involved the truck and three cars that were stopped in traffic.

Moments before the accident, vehicles slowing in traffic forced another large truck to swerve into the right lane to avoid an accident, Hendel said. The car that had been immediately behind the truck stopped, and the others behind it followed.

The truck, owned by a West Seneca tree-removal service and driven by Andrew Pries, 22, of Main Street in Delevan, hit the car stopped in front of him, starting the chain reaction, Hendel said.

"The front bumper of the truck actually was on the rear-deck shelf of the car," Hendel said.

Sitting in a child safety seat in the back of that car, 7-month-old Madeline Garvin suffered only minor injuries when she was hit by debris, the officer said.

"The parent did her job, and the product did its job," Hendel said.

That car, driven by Jill Garvin, 30, of Huxley Drive, Amherst, hit the car in front of her, which was driven by Alexandra Vettenburg, 26, of East End Avenue. In turn, her car hit one driven by James Saemenes, 26, of Rees Street.

Ms. Vettenburg and Saemenes were traveling alone. They, the Garvins and Pries were taken to Erie County Medical Center, where they were treated and released.

Charges were pending against Pries, and the truck has been impounded for a safety check, the officer said.

Hendel said similarities were evident between Tuesday's crash and the fiery, chain-reaction accident March 11 that claimed six lives on the southbound Niagara Thruway along the Buffalo waterfront. State police said that crash was caused when a car carrier slammed into traffic that was slowed by a fender-bender.

The Kensington Expressway, with a posted speed limit of 50 mph, poses its share of problems, Hendel said.

"Basically, what everybody does is drive too fast, too close to each other," he said.

Due east of the Harlem Road overpass, traffic is entering the expressway from the Maryvale Drive on-ramp, while other traffic is trying to edge to the right lane to catch the exit ramps to the Thruway.

Tuesday's accident left vehicles trying to squeeze past the scene on the left shoulder. Trucks too wide to pass through were stacked up in traffic until the site was cleared at about 5:30 p.m.

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