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Road-rage attack critically hurts man; Victim run over during North Tonawanda traffic dispute

A North Tonawanda man was arraigned Tuesday on charges he ran down two men, critically injuring one, during a weekend road-rage incident.

Theodore J. Canaski, 22, is accused of striking the men with his girlfriend's car at about noon Sunday outside an Oliver Street pizzeria during a traffic dispute, North Tonawanda police said.

"He had, like, no mercy. None," said Deidre Abeyta, who said she watched the incident from the porch of her Oliver Street home.

Canaski allegedly got out of his girlfriend's car, went after one victim with a crowbar, got behind the wheel, accelerated while the victim jumped on the hood, then Canaski braked, throwing the victim from the hood, and ran over him, according to witnesses.

Court documents indicate Jason S. Klepp, 23, was run over by Canaski, who was driving a red 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Klepp was listed in critical condition until late Tuesday afternoon, when he was upgraded to serious condition with head and other injuries in the intensive care unit at Erie County Medical Center, police said.

The other victim, Jason A. Patrick, 25, was treated and released from a hospital, according to court records and police. Both victims are North Tonawanda residents.

During the incident, Canaski was yelling and swearing, threatening Klepp and saying he was going to run him over, witnesses said.

The incident began as two vehicles driven by Klepp and Canaski's girlfriend were heading south on Oliver, south of Robinson Street.

Canaski was a passenger in his girlfriend's Cobalt, which cut off Klepp's gray Lincoln, a witness driving behind the Cobalt told police.

After the vehicles stopped, Canaski got out and threw a beverage on Klepp's vehicle. Klepp then got out of his vehicle outside Brando's Pizza and Wings. Klepp went over and kicked the Cobalt, and then Canaski returned to his girlfriend's car to get the crowbar.

Patrick, who works as a delivery driver at Brando's and is a friend of Klepp, was called out to the street and tried to get between the two men, witnesses said. Canaski then told his girlfriend to get out of the car, and he got behind the wheel.

At that point, Klepp was standing in front of the Cobalt, with his hands on the hood, said Kari Wrazin, who was leaving work at Brando's.

When the car accelerated, Klepp jumped on the hood. Klepp was standing on the hood and was thrown into the street when the car braked.

Then Canaski ran over him, Wrazin said.

Patrick, who was hit in the hip, suffered ankle and back injuries, Wrazin said.

After Klepp was run over, Abeyta said she ran into the street and held his head as they waited for emergency responders.

Klepp, who had cuts all over his body, kept trying to roll over, according to court papers.

Canaski sped south on Oliver, witnesses told police.

Canaski's girlfriend ran from the scene down Robinson and then a nearby side street, witnesses told police.

She told police that Klepp's vehicle cut her off.

Canaski, of Oliver Street, was arrested by North Tonawanda police on Tuesday, investigators said, and was arraigned on charges of first- and second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, fourth-degree weapon possession and menacing. Bail was set at $25,000. He is due in court for a felony hearing Thursday.

His girlfriend was not charged.

e-mail: abesecker@buffnews.com

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