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State police seek witnesses to Thruway crash that killed Niagara Falls man

State police investigators put out a plea for any witnesses to the fatal crash that shut down the Thruway for several hours Thursday to come forward.

The crash occurred at about 3 p.m., in the westbound lanes of I-90 near Exit 50A (Cleveland Drive).

The driver killed in the crash was identified as Louis D. Martin, 56, of Niagara Falls, state police reported Friday morning.

Anyone who observed the collision is asked to call Investigator Richard Kline at (716) 759-8638.

State police gave this account of how the crash took place:

Jason E. Askew, 34, of Cheektowaga, was attempting to merge onto the I-90 from the Cleveland Drive on-ramp, when he was cut off by another motor vehicle, state police said. Askew lost control of his vehicle and struck Martin’s car, which then struck a tractor-trailer driven by Timothy L. Brow, 45, of Buffalo, state police said.

Both Martin’s Volkswagen and the tractor trailer came to rest in the median of the Thruway.

Martin was pronounced dead at the scene.

Askew was transported to the Erie County Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries and Brown was uninjured.

Traffic came to a standstill for several hours.

It was not until after 8 p.m. that the center lane was open in both directions. Even then, the left lanes in both directions remained closed.

Firefighters from Cleveland Hill and U-Crest fire companies, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police and a Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance also were at the scene.

Rush-hour traffic was backed up for miles in each direction, even onto the Niagara Thruway and Youngmann and Kensington expressways. Traffic also reportedly was slow on roads in Cheektowaga, Williamsville and Clarence.