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Frontier student killed in collision the morning after prom

A teenager from Hamburg was killed and three others were injured in a two-vehicle crash Saturday morning on Southwestern Boulevard in West Seneca.

Police identified the victim as Edward J. Travis IV, 18, the driver of one of the vehicles.

His passenger, Elizabeth Rybarczyk, also 18, of Hamburg, was taken to Erie County Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery, said Lt. David L. Szmania, of the West Seneca Police Department. She was in stable condition in the intensive care unit Saturday evening.

The two in the other vehicle, Russell F. Desiderio, 62, of Cheektowaga, and his wife, Kim, 60, also were taken to ECMC, where they were treated and released.

Investigators have not yet determined a cause of the crash, which was reported at around 8 a.m. Saturday in the area of 1620 Southwestern Boulevard, between the Southtowns Family YMCA and the Bluebird Motel.

Here's what police reported based on their preliminary investigation:

Travis was driving a 2005 Chevy Impala east on Southwestern when for some reason the vehicle crossed over into the westbound lane of traffic, Szmania said.

It appeared as if the Impala hit the shoulder of the road and the driver over-corrected, causing the vehicle to veer sideways into the other lane, Szmania said.

That's when it was struck by the 2018 Jeep Compass being driven west on Southwestern by Russell Desiderio.

Travis was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Travis was a student at Frontier Central High School.

Frontier student killed in car crash was driving to memorial fundraising race

In fact, the crash happened while Eddie "was on his way to volunteer after attending the prom," Frontier Superintendent Richard Hughes said on Twitter. Frontier's prom was Friday night.

Rybarczyk is a 2018 graduate of Frontier and was Travis' girlfriend, Hughes also said on Twitter.

West Seneca's Accident Investigation Unit is continuing the investigation, but it may be several days before a cause of the accident can be determined, Szmania said.

No charges have been filed.

Neighbors on Saturday described a horrific scene on Southwestern, a section of which was closed to traffic for several hours before reopening at noon.

Robert Lehsten was having breakfast in his West Seneca kitchen at about 8 a.m. Saturday when he heard what he described as a "big bang."

"It sounded like thunder going off," Lehsten said.

The two vehicles had collided less than 100 yards from his house. Both vehicles suffered extensive damage in the crash; one car appeared to be split into two.

When he heard the loud noise while inside his Reserve Road home, Lehsten said he ran to his window and saw the top of one of the vehicles involved in the crash. Then he called 911.

In the moments following the impact, he said he could see an adult male upside down in the area of the driver's seat of the car that ended up against a guardrail. A woman was attempting to comfort him.

He said he could not make out what happened to the car's steering wheel in the wreckage.

“I’m looking at it, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh,’ ” Lehsten said.

He said several area schools held prom last night, and parents had been coming to the scene to check and see if their children were involved in the collision.

It’s not uncommon to see drivers speed along this stretch of Route 20, he said, and sometimes there are issues with drivers making a left turn out of the Southtowns YMCA.

Larry Cee, who also lives on Reserve Road, said he was inside his home when the crash happened.

“It sounded like a crash and a shotgun going off,” Cee said. “Basically, like a big boom.”

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