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Gerhardt files suit for injury

Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Allen A. Gerhardt and his wife have filed a lawsuit against the man whose flight from a minor accident led to a crash that cost the deputy both of his legs.

Attorney Christopher J. O'Brien said Tuesday he filed the lawsuit last week in State Supreme Court in Niagara County.

It does not specify an amount of damages being sought but says Gerhardt and his wife, Tina, are seeking compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Todd M. Hauser, 36, of New Road, Ransomville, left the scene of a minor fender-bender on Ransomville Road at about 1:15 a.m. July 18.

When the call was broadcast to search for Hauser, Gerhardt, who was on patrol, headed for the scene at high speed. But he lost control of his police car on Lake Road in Porter and slammed into a guardrail.

The guardrail's end knifed into the passenger compartment of the car and severed Gerhardt's legs. O'Brien said no suit has been filed regarding the condition or maintenance of the guardrail.

"Our focus here is on responsibility, holding the person responsible who, if he had stopped, this never would have happened," O'Brien said.

A Porter Town Court jury convicted Hauser on April 19 of leaving the scene of an accident and moving from a lane unsafely. He was acquitted of driving while intoxicated. A blood test taken more than five hours after the accident showed an alcohol level of 0.16 percent, but the results were suppressed because the nurse who took the blood sample used an alcohol wipe on Hauser's skin before inserting the needle.

Deputies Jonathan Andres and Shawn Grapes are believed to have saved Gerhardt's life that night by tying tourniquets to stop the bleeding.

He received prosthetic legs Oct. 26.

George V.C. Muscato, who defended Hauser in the Town Court trial, said Tuesday he will play no role in the civil suit. He said he expects Hauser's auto insurance company to provide an attorney for him.

The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.