Close to the end of a 3-mile walk from his parents' Depew home, a 55-year-old pedestrian was killed before dawn Tuesday in a hit-and-run accident on Genesee Street in front of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, authorities reported.
The victim, identified as Robert Prigl of Depew and Fort Myers, Fla., was struck at about 4:50 a.m., Cheektowaga police said.
A neighbor said Prigl was heading to the airport to catch a flight back to Florida.
Investigators are asking businesses in the area for surveillance video that may help identify the vehicle and the driver.
Prigl grew up in a house on Argus Drive in Depew where his parents still reside, said neighbor Helen Aubry, who believes Prigl was headed to the airport to fly back to Florida when he was hit.
Prigl regularly came up from Florida to visit and help out his parents, who have lived next door to Aubry for more than 40 years.
"He was a very outgoing, very hardworking person," Aubry said.
Prigl liked to walk places, she said. He previously turned down her offers to pick him up at the airport when he flew into town, choosing to make the roughly 3-mile walk to his parents' Depew home instead, she said.
Cheektowaga police confirmed Prigl was walking to the airport Tuesday morning from his parents' home.
In addition to his parents, Hans and Beate, Prigl also is survived by a sister and nephews, Aubry said.
Prigl was hit by a westbound vehicle in the westbound travel lanes on the north side of the street, closest to the airport, near 4255 Genesee, police said.
Along the south side of Genesee are a stretch of hotels and other businesses. In this area, Genesee has six driving lanes plus a median/turning lane. The speed limit is 45 mph. The area where he was struck is not far from a traffic light and a crosswalk.
Police, who have not released any further information about the incident, described the roadway in the area as well lit and well marked.
One hotel employee said it was fairly common for hotel guests to walk across the street at that hour in order to catch early morning flights.
The earliest passenger flights typically start leaving the airport at about 5:30 a.m., while cargo flights typically begin departing at 4:30 a.m., said Helen Tederous, a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority spokeswoman.
The westbound lanes of Genesee Street in front of the airport were closed as police investigated the crash, but have since reopened. While the street was closed, travelers headed to the airport were being advised to use the west entrance to the airport at the end of the expressway.
The vehicle involved may have front-end damage, police said.
Authorities are following several leads and ask any witnesses or anyone who may have seen a damaged vehicle in the area at the time to call the Cheektowaga Police Accident Investigation Unit at 716-686-3580.
Here's a map of the approximate location of the hit-and-run: