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Driver says he fell asleep before fatal Delaware Park crash

The driver of the gray Chevrolet Malibu that struck two children, killing one of them, in Delaware Park just before noon Saturday has told authorities that he fell asleep at the wheel.

And that claim jibes with the observation of one eyewitness, who saw the driver slumped over the wheel immediately after the crash.

If so, it’s not clear whether a medical condition or some other reason would explain the man’s falling asleep while driving.

An eyewitness also saw the driver, whose name hasn’t been released, kneeling outside his vehicle after the crash, openly weeping. Authorities believe the driver was one of several people who called 911.

“He claims that he fell asleep,” one local law-enforcement source said Monday. “But then he got out of the car with the cell phone in his hand, according to witnesses ... Maybe the crash woke him, and he grabbed his cell phone.”

But the source quickly added that authorities don’t know exactly what happened before the crash.

The driver, believed to be in his late 20s or 30s, has not been charged in the case. Police have not released his name.

A preliminary estimate of the vehicle’s speed suggests that it was speeding at the time of the crash, going somewhere between about 55 and 65 mph where the speed limit was 50 mph, although sources emphasized that those aren’t definitive findings.

The driver was given a sobriety test at the scene, and authorities have not said whether there was any indication of alcohol use or some medical cause that could have led the driver to fall asleep in the middle of a sunny day.

Investigators with the Buffalo police Accident Investigation Unit are doing various tests, including a check of the vehicle’s computer and the driver’s cell phone, along with further attempts to pinpoint the speed at the time of impact.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown still wouldn’t identify the driver during a press conference at the crash site Monday morning, noting that no charges had been filed as of that time.

“The investigation is ongoing. It will be quite thorough,” Brown said, adding that it could take weeks.

email: gwarner@buffnews.com