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Driver saved in crash at HSBC Arena Woman is hailed as hero for pulling victim from fiery scene at damaged entranceway

A woman was being treated in Erie County Medical Center late Wednesday night after her car crashed against the front door of HSBC Arena, heavily damaging the entranceway and littering the area inside with glass.

The crash occurred at about 9:30 p.m. There apparently were no eyewitnesses, but a Buffalo woman headed to work at HSBC Atrium is being hailed as a hero for pulling the victim out of her car, which was on fire.

"She just told me, 'Thank you, you're a lifesaver. . . . You saved my life, thank you,'" said Andrea Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said she was at Washington and Scott streets when she saw an orangelike glow at the front door of the arena.

"I didn't know if I was seeing it correctly. . . . I'm thinking, 'Is that a car?' " Rosenthal said.

As she drove closer, it became obvious to her that a car had, in fact, crashed against the building and there was a fire under the trunk. Rosenthal said her adrenaline took over. She ran to the driver's door and pulled the woman out of the car, dragging her onto the sidewalk. Rosenthal then called 911.

The woman, who was traveling alone, was treated at the scene by firefighters. Her name was withheld by police. She was said to be in her late 30s.

"She was dazed and confused," said Lt. Mark A. Wickenhiser of Ladder 2. "After that kind of impact, it's not unusual."

The woman was put in a stretcher and a neck brace and loaded into the ambulance.

The woman was believed to have been traveling on Washington Street before failing to make a turn onto Perry Street. The force of the collision with the curb is believed to have propelled the four-door, silver-colored Saab sedan over the sidewalk. The front of the car hit the west side of the front entrance, leaving a gaping hole in the brick facade.

The driver's-side rear tire came to rest atop a concrete garbage can pylon. One of the two exhaust pipes had been torn from the undercarriage and fell beneath the car. The front of the car was obliterated by the force of the crash; the cabin of the vehicle remained intact. The woman did not appear to be seriously injured, fire officials said.

Broken glass from one of the doors to the arena was strewn throughout the atrium. An events board on the outside of the arena was also smashed open, spilling its contents onto the sidewalk.

Wickenhiser said city engineers were at the scene evaluating the damage. He did not believe that the arena incurred any structural damage.

"Most of it is facade damage, but it is pretty extensive," he said.

Buffalo police were investigating whether alcohol might have been a factor in the crash and impounded the car.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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