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5 injured, multiple vehicles damaged in crashes Domino effect set off by speeding driver

A bizarre series of crashes along West Delavan Avenue early Saturday involved at least one drunken driver, injured five people and damaged five cars, a motorcycle and a Buffalo police cruiser.

At about 4:30 a.m., an officer was eastbound on West Delavan in a patrol car when he spotted a westbound car speeding, investigators said. The officer reversed course to pursue the speeder when he was struck by another car on West Delavan near Chapin Parkway.

The driver of the car that struck the cruiser stopped and was arrested after he was found to be driving while intoxicated, police said.

In the meantime, the speeding car continued west on West Delavan, ran a red light and smashed into a black Pontiac at the intersection with Elmwood Avenue before crashing into a utility pole, police said.

That car also struck a parked motorcycle, sending it across the street, and then smacked a blue Ford parked on the street head-on, hitting it so hard that the back of the Ford ended up on the hood of a maroon Chevrolet parked behind it.

The male driver and female passenger -- both 19 -- were taken to Erie County Medical Center, where they were listed in stable condition Saturday night, said Michael J. DeGeorge, Buffalo police spokesman.

Charges are pending against the driver, DeGeorge said.

Details about the others injured were not available, but police said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. One man had to be freed from the wreckage.

Authorities provided no other information about the crash on Saturday.

Police closed off West Delavan from Argyle Avenue to Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue from Bidwell to St. James Place for hours after the crashes. The streets were all open by 9 a.m.

Bits and pieces of plastic, glass and car parts were strewn all across West Delavan and Elmwood. A pair of blue paramedic gloves lay in a puddle near the crumpled cars.

As tow trucks began maneuvering the wreckage, Suzy Vergo, the owner of the blue Ford, sighed as she snapped photos of the heavy front-end damage to her car.

"Kind of wishing I had off-street parking right about now," she said.

Vergo said she was awakened by the sound of the crash.

"I thought it was thunder at first," she said. "I quickly realized it was not."

Vergo ran outside and saw crumpled cars, including her own.

She saw a man lying in the street and someone in the back seat of a damaged car. A woman who said she was in one of the vehicles told Vergo that she couldn't get her cousin out of the car. The woman told Vergo that the crash was the fault of another car.

"She said they were speeding and they were swerving," Vergo said.

Jennifer Nowaczewski, 23, the owner of the maroon Chevrolet, removed items from her smashed-up car before a tow truck pulled its hood out from underneath Vergo's. Holding a box of her belongings, she said she woke up to a commotion outside her apartment building, peered outside and saw the mess.

"I had a really bad feeling," she said.

Though upset by the damage to her car, she is happy she was not in the car at the time.

"I'm mostly upset because I filled up the gas tank yesterday," she said.

News Staff Reporter Jay Rey contributed to this report.

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

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