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Crash kills son of activist challenging trucks on route
Lewiston man dies in head-on collision

The son of a local environmentalist who has voiced concern over truck traffic on Ridge Road was killed Wednesday morning in a crash with an empty waste-hauling truck on the roadway.

Ryan C. Henderson, 35, of Plain Street, Village of Lewiston, was driving east at 8:47 a.m. when his 2002 Hyundai Elantra drifted into the path of a westbound Buffalo Fuel Corp. truck, Lewiston Police Chief Christopher Salada said.

"He hit head-on," Salada said of Henderson. "He was pronounced dead at the scene."

Megan Gollwitzer, state Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman, said the truck had dropped off a load at the Chemical Waste Management landfill but was empty at the time of the crash.

Henderson was the son of Rebecca D. and Timothy P. Henderson of Lewiston.

His father is a former president and founder of Residents Organized for Lewiston's Environment, which was formed to deal with the issue of truck traffic on Ridge Road.

Timothy Henderson called his son "a personal hero" and said he was devastated by the loss.

"It's an empty feeling," he told The Buffalo News.

He said his son was on his way to work as a site manager at Rivershore, a group home for the mentally disabled in Cambria.

Why his car drifted into the opposite lane remained unclear, said Salada, who noted the crash remains under investigation.

An autopsy was conducted in Erie County Medical Center, but results were unavailable.

The truck driver, Alfredo Figueroa, 52, of Lockport, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Mount St. Mary's Hospital for evaluation, the police chief said.

Ridge Road, also known as Route 104, remained closed for more than six hours between Ransomville and Townline roads because of a minor diesel fuel spill caused by the crash.

Salada said the stretch reopened at 3:30 p.m., after a DEC inspection.

Timothy Henderson, meanwhile, described his son as someone who "loved his job working with developmentally handicapped people. He loved them, and they loved him. He had a very gentle way about himself."

He said his son ran up to nine miles a day, was training for a marathon and had run half-marathons.

He also said his son was "talented beyond belief," a songwriter who overcame a stutter through "sheer determination."

Ryan Henderson was lead guitarist in a band called the Middlemen.

Six months ago, he moved into an apartment in a historic village structure that had been the home of Josiah Tryon, a village founder whom Timothy Henderson portrayed for local events for more than a dozen years.

"I thought there was great irony there, and he enjoyed that," Timothy Henderson said.

Ryan Henderson graduated from Lewiston-Porter Central School in 1993.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by a longtime companion, Liz Mayer.

Memorial services will be scheduled.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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