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Bisons fan’s tragic death evokes memories of generosity

Dusty Wells left the ballpark a little early Friday night, as usual, in order to avoid the postgame fireworks and the ensuing headache they gave her.

In her motorized chair, the Buffalo Bisons season-ticket holder got on the Route 15 bus that took her back home to her Seneca-Babcock neighborhood, a trip she had made dozens of times in the past.

But this time, she didn’t make it.

At about quarter to 10, she got off the bus at the Milton Street stop and headed to her nearby apartment. As she crossed Seneca Street, and with a light rain falling, a tan 2001 Pontiac driven by a 20-year-old woman struck Wells’ motorized chair. A witness said the chair was split in two, with the seat portion separated from the base.

Wells, known to family as a kindhearted woman who gave to children, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Every month, the 61-year-old made sure she took out 10 $1 dollar bills so she could give them to children she would see in the neighborhood or on the bus, said her daughter, Tammie.

“Didn’t have to have a reason, just because,” her daughter said, adding that her mother also used to buy a couple of hundred dollars worth of toys for children and secretly leave them on families’ porches in her neighborhood on Christmas Eve.

After she stopped buying Christmas presents, she donated to the Toys for Tots drive and Women & Children’s Hospital. She also collected stuffed animals that she planned to one day donate to the hospital, but only after she had gathered up enough of them, her daughter said.

“She never thought of herself,” her daughter said, sitting on the porch Sunday afternoon where her mother sat, often feeding squirrels. “She did what she could for whoever she could.”

She also took boys on her street to Bisons games. “That’s just who she was,” Tammie said.

After visiting Coca-Cola Field about three years ago, her mother fell in love with it and bought season tickets. She loved the team so much, she got the Bisons logo tattooed on her left arm.

The Bisons held a moment of silence for Wells before Sunday’s game against the Toledo Mud Hens.

A Mariners fan from having lived in Seattle, Wells moved to the Buffalo area with her daughter from Montana around 25 years ago. She had lived in Seneca-Babcock about five years and had her share of health problems, according to her daughter.

It was osteoporosis that made the chair necessary for anything longer than short distances. About 10 years ago, she had double-bypass heart surgery and in November was rear-ended in a car crash that left her with a herniated disc in her neck.

She didn’t get out much, except for the Bisons games.

Crash investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology and other tests on the driver, Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said Sunday.

Orange spray paint dotted the scene of the crash Sunday. There were circles and other marks, with words nearby including “shoe,” “glasses,” “lens,” and “chair” to depict where items had been found after the accident.

People in the neighborhood said it’s not atypical to see drivers speed through that section of Seneca Street.

Tammie, who now lives in northern New York, had come into town for Mother’s Day and had been scheduled to head home Sunday. Instead, she was getting ready to plan her mother’s memorial service.

“She has survived the odds more times than I care to count,” her daughter said. “And so it just comes as a shock.”