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Akron woman charged in deadly Clarence crash

Erie County District Attorney's Office

The Erie County Sheriff's Office has arrested a woman who is now accused of causing a deadly accident while impaired by a drug in January.

Jessica A. Novak, 37, of Akron was arrested by deputies Tuesday evening and arraigned in Clarence Town Court on one count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, one count of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, and one count of Reckless Driving. The first two charges are felonies.

Investigators believe Novak was operating a vehicle during the afternoon of January 19, 2021, which traveled at a high rate of speed along Main Street in the Town of Clarence. Police allege Novak's vehicle crossed into the turning lane and struck another that was turning on to Goodrich Road. The driver of the second vehicle, 65-year-old Jeanette Helms of Clarence, was fatally injured. 

That collision caused a chain reaction involving two other vehicles. Investigators suggest Novak was impaired by a drug at the time of the crash though it was not disclosed what that substance was.

If convicted of all counts, Novak faces up to 15 years in prison.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.