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Police: Lack of officer's lights, siren standard at time of fatal Hertel Avenue accident

Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

State police are continuing to investigate a deadly accident last week where a woman walking on Hertel Avenue was struck and killed by a Buffalo police officer responding to a call.

The victim was 64-year-old Susan LoTempio, a neighborhood resident who routinely took early morning walks. The officer, identified by The Buffalo News as Daniel Ahearn, a six-year veteran of the force, is cooperating in the investigation.

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says based on the nature of the call, the officer would not have needed to have his lights and siren on at the time the fatal accident occurred.

"Our manual calls for three different responses to a call for service. There's a routine response, a rapid response and then an emergency response. Based on the nature of the call that the officer was responding to, it would fall either within the routine or rapid response. But based on our very preliminary investigation, the officer was following our policy and it was not a call for service that necessarily dictated the use of the emergency lights and siren," Rinaldo said Thursday.

Rinaldo said the department does not believe speed was a factor, but more will be known once state police conclude their accident reconstruction. Those results may take up to a month.

Sources cited in the Buffalo News report say the officer's vision may have been compromised due to dark misty weather and a computer mounted in the center of the vehicle's console.

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