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Two-car crash injures officer, driver

A car and police cruiser crashed Saturday night on Niagara Street in Black Rock, sending the police officer and driver of the other vehicle to the hospital.

Their injuries do not appear to be serious, said Michael J. DeGeorge, Buffalo police spokesman.

The collision occurred at about 8 p.m. at Niagara and Amherst streets, near the exit ramp of the Niagara Thruway.

The officer -- with lights flashing and siren on -- was traveling south on Niagara Street, en route to a gun call, according to accident investigators.

At the same time, investigators said, a dark-colored Volkswagen Jetta was getting off the Thruway ramp, and the two vehicles crashed.

Witnesses along Niagara Street reported seeing three or four police cruisers traveling at a high rate of speed when the collision occurred.

"We were around the corner at a birthday party and all of a sudden we heard a big 'bang'," said Linda Schruefer, one of the bystanders.

The driver of the Jetta jumped out of the vehicle, and was sprawled on the sidewalk until medical crews arrived and put him on a stretcher in the back of the ambulance, added Dawn Brice, another bystander.

"We heard the bang, and we came running," Brice said. "The [Jetta] was smoking bad when we got here, so I'm sure he thought the car was going to explode."

The driver of the Jetta was issued a summons for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

The investigation continues, and other charges are possible, DeGeorge said.

The Jetta ended up in front of the Thruway ramp, facing north on Niagara, with its front end smashed in.

Police blocked off Niagara between Amherst and Tonawanda streets as they cleared the crash scene.

News Staff Reporter Edward Mazzu contributed to this report.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com