AAA says snow is to blame in recent deaths

Two men died waiting for help during storm

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Travel bans and impassible roads kept AAA tow trucks from reaching two men who died waiting for help during the height of the snow storm, the auto club says.

Tony Spada, president and CEO of AAA Western and Central New York issued a statement Saturday on how the auto club handled the help calls from Donald Abate, 45 and David M. Deneke, 50.

Both men died during the snow storm after contacting AAA and police for help after their cars became stuck in the snow.  Abate was found Wednesday off Broadway in Alden, his car buried in snow.

STORY | Man found dead in his car in Alden.

Deneke, of North Creek Drive in Depew, was found on Friday by Cheektowaga Police. His car, also buried in snow, was found on Innsbruck Drive in Cheektowaga, about 200 yards east of Union Road. Authorities said he too had called AAA on Tuesday looking for a tow truck to help him.

STORY | Man found dead in his car in Cheektowaga

Deneke and Abate were among the 13 who died during the storm and its aftermath.

Spada’s statement said AAA employees from their call center and dispatch were “communicating regularly with both members, providing updated information and estimated time of arrivals.

“The onset of extreme weather on the Nov. 18th, a state of emergency declaration, travel bans and impassible road conditions rendered our vehicles unable to reach the locations of these members.

“Members were made aware of these challenging circumstances, and we advised them to contact 911.  Both members confirmed doing this. Reports indicate that family members also contacted police.

It is our understanding that police and 911 emergency personnel were faced with the same insurmountable challenges and requests for service.”

AAA spokesman Steve Pacer declined to elaborate on the statement or to address reports from the Abate family that they were told by a AAA staffer that the tow truck was turned away by police.

Spada noted that AAA responded to over 1,750 road service requests in Western New York from Tuesday through Thursday.

“Our hearts are heavy and we continue to keep their families in our thoughts and prayers,” Spada said.

Police agencies are investigating both deaths.

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