A truck driver has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal Thruway crash in June that killed a University at Buffalo Nursing School faculty member.
Kristofer M. Gregorek, 27, of Ballston Spa, who police said was using his cell phone to shop when the accident occurred, was charged Thursday with second-degree manslaughter in the June 8 crash that killed Ellen M. Volpe, according to the State Police.
Investigators determined Gregorek was shopping online and completing a post-purchase survey when the box truck he was driving rear-ended Volpe's car, police said. Volpe’s vehicle was pushed forward, striking multiple other vehicles. The crash happened in the westbound lanes of the Thruway between the Pembroke and Depew exits.
Volpe, 45, who was a mother of 2- and 3-year-old sons, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Volpe was an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, but she lived in Rochester. She earned a Ph.D. in health practice research from the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 2010. She also worked as a nurse practitioner at community health centers in Rochester, and during the summer she volunteered at Camp Dream, where her husband is a director, through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester.
Volpe's death prompted an outpouring of tributes from acquaintances at UB.
“Nurses, we really like to say we’re patient advocates,” said Adrian Juarez, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “And Ellen really took that to a new level. She lived and breathed it.”
More than $126,000 has been donated to a gofundme.com fundraiser to benefit her sons, Paul and John.
Gregorek, the truck driver, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in February, claiming he had just over $10,300 in debts, most of which were on a Discover card. His debts were discharged by the bankruptcy court four days after the fatal crash.