Attorney General: Woman Fatally Struck By BPD Vehicle 'Tragic Accident'

Susan LoTempio died after being hit by patrol vehicle March 30th

Tom Puckett
December 20, 2018 - 1:25 pm

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The state attorney general's office says an investigation found no wrongdoing by a Buffalo Police officer when he struck and fatally injured a woman crossing Hertel Avenue in March.

On March 30,  Susan LoTempio, died after being hit by a patrol vehicle driven by Police Officer Daniel Ahearn at approximately 6:30 a.m., which was approximately thirty minutes prior to sunrise. The investigation found roads were wet and visibility was poor. Wearing dark clothing, Ms. LoTempio was crossing Hertel Avenue towards Tennyson Avenue at an angle and in an area where there was no crosswalk. A BPD patrol vehicle responding to a call by a civilian for police assistance collided with Ms. LoTempio. Because the call was a non-emergency call, PO Ahearn did not have his lights and sirens on.

Investigators say the New York State Police conducted an accident reconstruction, and the circumstances surrounding the collision were exacerbated by the fact that PO Ahearn’s marked patrol vehicle had a headlight out on the passenger side – the same side as Ms. LoTempio was walking from when the accident occurred. Moreover, PO Ahearn was alone in his patrol car, and thus required to monitor the Mobile Computer Terminal in his patrol vehicle while answering the call. The position of the MCT in the patrol vehicle also partially obstructed PO Ahearn’s view out the right side of his windshield, again making it difficult to see Ms. LoTempio. Finally, the ambient lighting and wet weather caused a glare that may have affected both PO Ahearn and Ms. LoTempio.

The attorney general's office says Ahearn cooperated fully with the investigation. He voluntarily provided a blood sample, which showed neither drugs nor alcohol in his system. He also allowed his personal cell phone to be examined to determine whether he was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the collision; he was not. Statements were taken from PO Ahearn, Buffalo Police officers in the vehicle behind PO Ahearn, medical personnel on the scene, and Ms. LoTempio’s family. Additionally, video surveillance taken immediately before the accident depicts Ms. LoTempio walking across the street as PO Ahearn’s patrol vehicle is approaching.

An autopsy performed at the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Ms. LoTempio died of multiple blunt force injuries. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

After an exhaustive investigation, SIPU has concluded that the collision was a tragic accident and that criminal charges are not justified.

SIPU urges the Buffalo Police Department to investigate changing the placement of the MCT to help ensure it does not obstruct parts of the driver’s view.

“We send our deepest condolences to the family of Ms. LoTempio, whose death was a heartbreaking tragedy,” said Attorney General Underwood. “We undertook a comprehensive investigation into the accident, part of our commitment to providing the public with exhaustive and transparent accounting of all cases we investigate under the executive order.”

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