A graduating Clarence Senior High School student who was looking forward to joining the Marine Corps was killed in a “horrible,” high-speed motorcycle crash just before 9 a.m. Wednesday after he fled a state trooper.
The trooper stopped Patrick S. Conway, 18, on Main Street, just west of Sheridan Drive, for driving the high-performance motorcycle, sometimes known as a “crotch rocket,” without a license plate, authorities said.
As the trooper exited his vehicle, Conway sped away. The trooper began a pursuit that ended less than two minutes later and 1½ miles farther west on Main Street, near the Harris Hill Road intersection, in a fiery head-on collision with a 2009 BMW X6 car, according to state police and witnesses.
Conway, who was thrown some 50 feet from his Honda motorcycle, was killed instantly, according to police.
“We have numerous witnesses saying that the young man was going over 100 mph and weaving in and out of oncoming traffic in the eastbound lanes and at one point riding on the shoulder of the east side of Main Street,” a law enforcement official said. That area of Main Street has a 40-mph speed limit.
The trooper turned on his flashing lights and siren to begin the chase, authorities said, but was unable to catch up to the motorcycle.
One of the witnesses to the chase told The Buffalo News that he was filling up at a gas station by Shimerville Road when he heard the high-pitched whine of a speeding motorcycle.
“By the time I looked, he went by me in the blink of an eye, and then a trooper went by. The trooper was at a high speed, but there was no way he was going to close in on the motorcyclist. I thought to myself, this guy is as good as dead. There was no way he was going to avoid anything in his path. I rode a motorcycle for 20 years, and I know that at that speed, unless it is a wide-open road, there’s not going to be a successful ending,” the Clarence resident said.
After tanking up, he added, he drove west on Main and in the distance spotted “black smoke from the fire and people running out of their office buildings to the scene.”
Chiropractor Daniel C. Cox, whose office is on the 8300 block of Main, said he was with a patient when he heard a loud noise from the crash and rushed out to provide first aid.
“There was no movement. It was a horrible sight, just a horrible tragedy, and I’ve seen a number of terrible crashes, because I’m trained as an accident reconstructionist,” Cox said.
Diane Cox, who works in her son’s office, said she looked out a window after hearing a loud “boom” and screamed.
“Firefighters kept spraying the fire, but it kept coming back,” she said.
“Patrick was a very well-liked young man. He was kind and respectful. He was on track to graduate in a few short weeks and was really proud of his plans. He was on track to join the Marine Corps,” Smith said as the school community was trying to come to grips with the sudden loss.
“The biggest thing he was proud of was his enlistment in the Marine Corps. He was doing training with a local group of young people in preparation for boot camp,” Smith said. “Our school is deeply saddened, the teachers, the students, the support staff, and our thoughts and prayers are with Patrick’s family and friends.”
Emergency counseling from psychologists and guidance counselors was being made available to students and staff, the principal said, urging parents to talk with their children if they see signs of emotional distress over Patrick’s death.
Conway is the second Clarence High School student to die in an accident this spring.
On May 5, Alexander Hemline, 17, was killed in one-vehicle crash when his Jeep struck a tree in Clarence.