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‘Horrible’ crash stuns region

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen The driver of this vehicle was treated and released by Brooks-TLC.

Northern Chautauqua County residents remain stunned over the horrific four-vehicle crash, likely caused by high speed, that caused two deaths Central and Howard avenues in Dunkirk on Thursday afternoon.

Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano said in a news release late Thursday the investigation is continuing into the incident that occurred around 5:50 p.m. He also is asking those who were a witness to the crash to call police at 716-366-2266.

Shawna Steward Szukala, who witnessed the incident while driving at that location, said a white sedan was driving at an extreme speed on Central Avenue. Szukala witnessed the car weave between other cars multiple times. The sedan then struck a car from behind, which caused the sedan to flip forward and land on top of another car, which later caught fire. Two were ejected from the white sedan, while a third person remained trapped in the car.

“It was a horrible and intense few minutes,” said Szukala, a mother of five who was on her way to work at Spike Dailey’s Pub in Dunkirk at the time of the accident. Szukala’s car was the only one of five cars, including the speeding vehicle, that was not struck.

According to Szukala, witnesses at the scene believed at the time there were children in the car that had caught fire — though it turned out there were not. Szukala said that panic intensified the traumatic moment even more.

“People were panicking and the smoke engulfed the whole street. We all thought the car was going to explode,” Szukala said.

According to Ortolano, one victim of the crash was flown to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa. Two others received treatment at Brooks-TLC Hospital System in Dunkirk.

Witnesses said the two fatalities and the victim airlifted were believed to be in the sedan that allegedly caused the crash.

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