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SUV driver injured in collision with semi

PENDLETON – The driver of a sport utility vehicle was critically injured and unconscious when he was flown to Erie County Medical Center on Friday morning after a collision with a beer truck on South Transit Road.

Wendelville Fire Company Chief Joel Maerten said it took about 15 minutes to extricate the driver from his wrecked four-door Dodge Durango in a ditch in front of the Dugout, a sports bar at 6850 S. Transit Road, on the Pendleton side of Route 78.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office would not release the name of the injured man, but said he was 22 and was alone in the Durango.

“It was major trauma, which you’d expect in an accident like this,” Maerten said.

Maerten said the crash occurred shortly before 8 a.m. as both vehicles were northbound on the Lockport side of South Transit.

Investigators said that the driver of the Dodge “attempted a U-turn directly in front of the semi’s path,” according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

The Durango crossed the road and smashed into the exposed end of a culvert in the ditch on the west, or Pendleton, side of the road.

Maerten said the beer truck jack-knifed and ended up in the same ditch just behind the SUV. It did not lose its load.

The beer truck belongs to Try-It Distributing of Lancaster. A company official at the scene declined comment on the crash, which left the truck’s cab pointing south in the ditch, while the trailer was pointing north. The truck was hauling about 10,000 pounds when the accident happened.

Maerten said, “We came on scene to find the driver of the delivery truck out and walking around, no injuries. But the driver of the SUV was trapped, unconscious. Once we got the (fire) engine on scene, we were able to extricate the victim. It took about 15 minutes using our hydraulic rescue tool to cut the patient free from the vehicle.”

Maerten said a Rural/Metro ambulance took the man to the nearby North Buffalo Suburban Airport, a small airfield on the Pendleton side of South Transit Road, where the Mercy Flight helicopter was waiting to pick him up for the trip to ECMC. Rapids Fire Company assisted in setting up the landing zone, Maerten said.

Wendelville firefighters remained on the scene in case of a fuel spill as the vehicles were pulled from the ditch. Southbound traffic on South Transit Road was reduced to one lane at the accident scene during the cleanup.