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Driver in high-speed police chase that injured motorist pleads guilty to vehicular assault

The Buffalo driver who led police on a high speed chase in March has pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and criminal possession of a controlled substance, the Erie County District's Attorney Office announced Friday.

Antonio Gutierrez, 21, faces a maximum of 6 ½ years in prison when sentenced by Judge John L. Michalski on Nov. 8.

Buffalo police narcotics officers were trying to execute a search warrant on Weiss Street in Buffalo on March 29 when Gutierrez pulled up in a vehicle and sped away when police tried to detain him.

According to police, the officers chasing Gutierrez were driving at speeds of 60 to 80 miles mph, while Gutierrez was moving at a faster speed. One witness estimated he had been hitting speeds close to 100 mph.

The afternoon chase ended with Gutierrez's car going airborne on Seneca Street in the Seneca Babcock neighborhood. He was speeding when his car struck an occupied vehicle, forcing that vehicle to strike a First Student school bus. No one on the bus was injured, but the driver in the vehicle struck by Gutierrez suffered serious spinal injuries.

District Attorney John J. Flynn commended the narcotics officers, including Detective Joseph Cook and the Buffalo Police Accident Investigation Unit, including Lt. Thomas Leatherbarrow, for their work. Assistant District Attorneys Patrick B. Shanahan and Lauren Nash prosecuted the case.

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