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78-year-old accused of stealing police SUV left path of destruction

The 78-year-old South Buffalo man accused of stealing a police vehicle earlier this week left a path of injuries and property damage over just a few blocks, according to court documents.

The driver, identified in court documents as Robert J. Closs of Culver Road, sent two police officers and another driver to the hospital and totaled the stolen police SUV, according to court documents.

Closs remains in Erie County Medical Center, having suffered multiple broken bones, police said Friday. The department has otherwise said little about the incident, which began at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday following a call of neighbor trouble on Culver Road.

As police were investigating the call, Closs got into the police SUV, headed west on Culver and then turned south on South Park, according to a police report.

As officers pursued Closs in another police vehicle, Closs collided with a separate vehicle several blocks away, near the intersection of South Park Avenue and Marilla Street. The impact pushed the other car up onto the sidewalk. That driver was taken to ECMC for minor injuries, according to court documents.

Continuing to travel south on South Park, Closs also drove up onto the sidewalk in front of a dance studio and then into a parked vehicle, which pushed the parked vehicle through a fence and into a front yard, according to court documents.

Police said Closs tried to drive away from that crash scene, striking the police vehicle that had been pursuing him. Closs had to be forcibly removed from the SUV.

The two officers, identified in court documents as Clayton Reed and Michael Healy, were taken to ECMC for treatment of minor injuries, according to the documents.

Closs' driver's license had been suspended Aug. 6 "for administrative action" by the department, according to court documents. Further clarification on the cause of the suspension was not immediately available.

Closs was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, aggravated unlicensed operation, unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal possession of stolen property, reckless driving, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, grand larceny, three counts of leaving the scene of a crash and a slew of other vehicle and traffic infractions.

Man, 78, charged with stealing Buffalo police vehicle

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