Man accused of DWAI by drugs in head-on crash

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Wheatfield man is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs for a serious crash that shut down a portion of Niagara Falls Boulevard for several hours Saturday evening.

Around 2:15 p.m., first responders were called to Niagara Falls Boulevard and Errick Road. Investigators say Richard Watson, 43, crossed the double yellow line in his vehicle and struck a Jeep head-on.

Both Watson and the driver of the Jeep, 29-year-old Danielle Finnegan of Tonawanda, suffered serious injuries and were flown to ECMC by Mercy Flight.

Two passengers in the Jeep, including a small child, suffered minor injuries.

Niagara County Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Elliott tells News 4 that the correct installation of the child safety seat prevented further injury. “It was well installed and the child only had a minor laceration.”

The crash is reigniting concern among residents. One says she’s been contacting the State Department of Transportation for eight years, imploring them to do something about the intersection.

Blankenship says the DOT sent her a letter in June saying officials reviewed the traffic pattern and accident data and determined the intersection doesn’t need a stoplight because the volume of traffic doesn’t meet the requirements. The letter also explained that the DOT does’’t have the funding to widen that portion of the boulevard. However, if funding becomes available they will look into completing the project.

“There was a reason that they thought about doing it in the first place. Go back and look at that reason and figure out where there money is and fix the roads,” Blankenship argued.

Watson is being charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and first degree aggravated unlicensed operation.

He may face additional charges.

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