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Attorneys for North Tonawanda train crash victims file petition against police, city

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The attorneys representing two victims of the train crash in North Tonawanda that left three people dead last month have filed a petition against the North Tonawanda Police Department as well as the city.

The petition, which was filed in State Supreme Court in Niagara County on Monday, claims police negligence leading up to the train hitting the car on Felton Street and River Road in North Tonawanda around 8 p.m. on May 17. The three killed were identified as 69-year-old David McMinn, 66-year-old Olive Geldart and 6-year-old Ra’Mari Geldart.

The documents state that when McMinn turned onto Felton Street, “the vehicle was prevented from completing its route of travel onto Felton Street due to the presence of multiple police patrol vehicles from multiple police agencies that were stopped obstructing the roadway thereby preventing [McMinn’s vehicle] from completing its turn and forcing it to remain on the railroad tracks located at the intersection.”

According to a witness, the pickup truck pulled onto the tracks and within 20 seconds, the crossing gates came down.

Police were doing a saturation patrol in the area on that night, with several local police agencies in the area doing a crackdown on warrant arrests as well as conducting traffic stops. Police were conducting a traffic stop in the area just before the crash.

In the petition, attorneys are requesting access to copies of police reports, including the “identity of police agencies that were present within one square mile, two hours prior to and two hours after the fatal incident,” photos, Amtrak train data, area surveillance video, body camera footage, and recordings of 911 calls.

The petition comes after the attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the information and documents, but were denied.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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