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JURY ACQUITS DRIVER, 72, OF NEGLIGENCE

A jury Thursday acquitted a Newfane man of criminally negligent assault in an alcohol-related accident in February that caused a Good Samaritan the loss of his legs.

Richard J. Calhoon, 72, was convicted, however, of driving while his ability was impaired in connection with the Feb. 18 accident on Hess Road.

The three-vehicle accident severely injured Thomas J. Slattery Jr., 24, who had stopped to help tow a car from a ditch when he was struck by a truck driven by Calhoon.

Newfane Town Justice Margaret C. Hamilton set sentencing for Sept. 8.

Calhoon faces up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine of $250 on the impaired driving conviction. The criminally negligent assault conviction could have resulted in a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Calhoon, surrounded by family members, declined to comment after the verdict was announced.

Slattery, accompanied by his fiance Sandy Herrick, 22, declined comment.

Ernest W. Ganshaw, the driver of the truck Slattery was riding in, also was hurt in the accident, suffering jaw and leg injuries. Ganshaw and his relatives declined to comment.

The verdict, rendered after 2.5 hours of deliberation, appeared to shock courtroom spectators, many of whom were related to Slattery.

The foggy conditions on the night of Feb. 8, as well as the parked Ganshaw vehicle, were key factors in the four-day trial, according to witness testimony.

Alcohol, too, played a factor, as Calhoon's blood-alcohol content was recorded at .07, a level that indicates impairment.

Testimony heard at the trial indicated Calhoon had admitted to drinking "a couple beers" prior to the time the accident occurred.

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