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Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:01 am

Law and Order: Batavia man accused of fighting with police

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Oakfield
Tyquawn D. Bethel

Tyquawn D. Bethel, 23, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with obstructing governmental administration, 2nd, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal trespass, 2nd, and petit larceny. Officers were dispatched to an address on Prune Street for a report of an argument at 10:06 p.m. Tuesday. Bethal allegedly entered the residence uninvited and refused to leave. Bethal allegedly argued with a person at the residence. He allegedly grabbed money from the purse of the resident and then attempted to leave with the money. When patrols arrived, Bethal was allegedly combative with officers and refused to comply with verbal commands. Bethal allegedly initiated a fight with the officers. Children were allegedly present during the scuffle. He was subdued and taken into custody. Bethal was jailed on $2,500 bail. The investigation was handled by Officer Kevin DeFelice and Sgt. Dan Coffey.

Robert L. Peachey Jr., 30, of Gibson Street, Oakfield, is charged with petit larceny. Peachey is accused of stealing a bottle of Jack Daniel's Honey from YNGodess on Feb. 28. (Previously)

Shaumyk Antonio Santiago, 21, of St. Paul Street, Rochester, is charged with burglary. Santiago is accused of forcing entry into a residence on Tinkham Drive, Darien, on or about Dec. 27, and stealing handguns, cash, jewelry and other property. Santiago was arraigned, released on his own recognizance and turned over to another police agency on unrelated criminal charges. A second arrest in the case is pending. The investigation was conducted by Investigator William Ferrando and Sgt. Ron Meides.

Christopher M. Colantonio, 34, of East Main Street, Batavia, is charged with failure to appear. Colantonio was arrested on a bench warrant. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Elizabeth A. Denise, 33, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant. Denise turned herself in. She was released on $100 bail.

Kevin R. Baumgarte, 39, of Birchwood, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, passing a red light, leaving scene of a property damage accident and failure to keep right. Baumgarte was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident on South Main Street at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Batavia patrols subsequently located Baumgarte. The accident was investigated by Officer Eric Foels.

Micahel Samuel Yamonaco, 41, of Trumbull Street, Mount Morris, Kathleen Melissa Pritchard, 35, of Spartan Drive, Farmington, Aaron Michael Higgins, 34, of Genesee Street, Piffard, and Miranda Ariene Ralston, 27, of Genesee Street, Piffard, are all charged with grand larceny, 4th. The four suspects are accused of stealing a TV from the Batavia Walmart. They were arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and found with the allegedly stolen TV. 

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Photo: Darien fire rekindle

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

Brittany Hodge sent his picture of the rekindle of this morning's fire at 1363 Broadway, Darien.

There have been a couple of rekindles today, but this one required both Darien fire and Corfu fire to be dispatched, along with a fill-in by Pembroke at Corfu's hall.

UPDATE 6:10 p.m.: Alexander fire has been dispatched to the rekindle.

Previously:

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

'Training just kicks in' as volunteers help evacuate their burning apartment building in Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

A classic, fully restored Harley was lost, as well as a restored Jeep. Six residents lost their personal belongings. The apartment building at 1363 Broadway, Darien, was destroyed.

Sadly, a dog lost his life.

But no people were seriously hurt, or worse.

That bit of good fortunate is a credit, it seems, to the professionalism of two members of the Darien Volunteer Fire Department who lived in the apartment building.

Joshua Reeb and Paul Redden were home when the fire broke out sometime around 4:30 a.m.

Redden smashed through Reeb's door and woke his fellow volunteer. He said he smelled smoke. Reeb felt the door into the hallway. At that point, he said, his fire training kicked in.

"It was all fire training," Reeb said. "I knew right away from the smell and the heat it was a real one. It wasn't somebody burning something. It was real."

Reeb and Redden helped alert the other residents, including the landlord, who owned the building and had lived in the main apartment for 30 years. Reeb helped him down the second-floor fire escape.

"I knew I had to get out and I had to get out now," Reeb said.

The two volunteers then rushed to the Darien fire hall -- less than a half-mile away -- and got their trucks "ready to rock and roll."

"I knew I wasn't going to be able to fight this fire," Reeb said. "But I knew I could get to the hall, open the doors, get the truck ready and let other people take over."

It was pitch black coming out of the apartment onto the fire escape. Knowing the layout, staying calm, not trying to grab his belongings, and being aware of what was going on around him made all the difference, said the 22-year-old Reeb, who has been a volunteer for five years.

"The training just takes over," Reeb said. "There's no fear. It's just respect for the fire, knowing I've got to do this and I've got to do this. All of that training just kicks in. It didn't hit me until I saw the flames coming out of my bedroom window and then it took me to the ground."

The initial investigation indicates the fire originated in the basement garage where fumes from spilled gasoline may have ignited when a hot water heater kicked on.

The building was owned by Scott Gielow, a mechanic who had converted his basement into a garage where he restored the vehicles he loved -- Harleys and Jeeps. In addition to losing the restored vehicles, he had two Jeeps that were still projects.

The fire was reported at 4:35 a.m. and as soon as Darien Chief Jim Marino got on scene he called for a second alarm. Flames were shooting out of the back of the building.

Two residents suffered minor burns and were treated at the scene.

The century-old structure was balloon construction with no insulation. Aluminum siding helped contain the fire to the interior of the building, but the flames just shot up the walls, unhindered by the kind of blocks between floors used in more modern buildings.

New hot spots seemed to flare up faster than firefighters could pour water on other involved parts of the building.

"The nature of the fire, the wind, the balloon construction, where it started, just made it hard to attack," Marino said.

Marino said it sounded like Reeb and Redden did a good job of making sure everybody got out of the building safely.

"It could have been a lot worse," Marino said.

Responding departments included Darien, Alexander, City of Batavia (Fast Team), Town of Batavia, Corfu, Pembroke, Alden and Bennington. Marcy EMS and Darien Ambulance also responded and deputies were on scene.

The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: Darien has been dispatched for a possible rekindle of the fire. It's the second rekindle this afternoon.

UPDATE 4:54 p.m.: Per chief, all units can remain in quarters.

UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: Darien and Corfu dispatched for a rekindle.

Joshua Reeb looks over the damage to the apartment building where he had been living.

To order prints of photos, click here.

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:41 am

Apartment on fire with three people possibly trapped inside on Broadway Road, Darien

post by Billie Owens in Darien, fire

A structure fire with possible injuries is reported at 1363 Broadway Road. There are flames coming from the basement of an apartment building and there are three people trapped inside. Darien Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics.

UPDATE 4:47 a.m.: All occupants are out of the building. It is a two-story wooden structure with flames now shooting out of the second story. The incident has gone to a second alarm, with two engines and a rescue unit from Corfu called to scene along with the city's Fast Team and equipment from Alexander. A fill-in crew from East Pembroke is requested to Corfu's Fire Hall. Traffic is being shut down at Route 77 and Warner Road.

UPDATE 5:04 a.m.: Traffic is also being shut down at Route 77 and Harlow Road.

UPDATE 5:56 a.m.: The fire is showing periodic flames at this point and heavy smoke. Interior crews from Pembroke and Indian Falls are called in.

UPDATE 6:19 a.m.: Town of Batavia fire is requested to the scene in emergency mode, to stage in Darien Fire Hall.

UPDATE 6:30 a.m.: Flames and heavy smoke still spewing from the structure, which is quite old and has "balloon construction." This is frustrating the firefighters' efforts to douse the blaze. They put out flames in one spot and the fire climbs up the wall to another place. Alabama is asked to fill in at Indian Falls Fire Hall.

UPDATE 6:49 a.m.: There were four six residents in this building comprised of five apartments. All got out safely, but one man's dog perished in the fire. Two of the tenants are volunteer firefighters for Darien and both were both home at the time.

UPDATE 7:47 a.m.: Howard, who is at the scene, interviewed one of the two volunteer firefighters, Joshua Reeb. Here's some of what he said:

"I was sleeping in my bed and my roommate, who happened to be awake, busted in my door, opened my door and said 'Come on, come on out. There's smoke. It smells like fire.' I woke up my girlfriend and said 'Grab your purse. You've got to go out the window.' I wasn't even going to try the door. I'm not going to risk it with that much smoke.

"I went to check on my neighbor -- he's older -- to make sure he could get out. He couldn't get out the front door so he went out the fire escape, which is connected to my neighbor's window. I came down the fire escape and made sure to get everybody out of the house. Got in my truck and went to the fire hall and got the (fire) truck prepped."

He credits his firefighting training with helping him to stay calm and provide direction. The other firefighter, "Paul," did likewise. Unlike another neighbor, Paul was able to save his dog. After making sure the occupants were safe, both went to the hall, which is just around the corner, to get things "ready to rock."

UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: They are still battling the fire, but there are fewer flames and a lot less smoke.

UPDATE 8 a.m.: The owner occupies the main apartment and has lived there 30 years. He's a mechanic and in his basement were a fully restored Jeep and a fully restored Harley-Davidson motorcycle and two other Jeeps that he was in the middle of restoring. All gone now.

UPDATE 8:09 a.m.: The Darien fire chief says the fire is knocked down. Overhauling the structure.

UPDATE 1:29 p.m.: The fire has reignited in some places and Darien Fire Department is responding.

Monday, March 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Darien Lake looking to fill 2,500 positions for the coming season

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park

Press release:

The region’s largest seasonal employer is looking to fill approximately 2,500 open positions across its operations, including the amusement park, water park, lodging, entertainment, food, and retail departments.

More than 50 percent of eligible employees from 2013 plan to return to Darien Lake this season, including local area teachers, seniors, high school and college students. Returning employees, along with new team members, will support weekend and holiday operations starting May 10, with daily park operations beginning June 13. Staffing levels adjust during these time periods and increase once the season is in full swing. 

"There’s something special about working a summer job at Darien Lake,” said Jan Peters, Darien Lake director of human resources. “We’re looking for energetic, friendly applicants of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in learning new skills and helping to create memorable experiences for our guests. It’s hard not to have a fantastic summer when you’re around great people in an environment that’s as fun as Darien Lake.”

Immediate opportunities are available in food services, park services, ride operations, retail, accommodations, campground housekeeping, games, gift shop sales, aquatic operations, skilled trades and park maintenance, entertainment, guest services, safety and security.

Interested applicants can apply online at www.DarienLake.com/jobs or call the Darien Lake Job Line at 585-599-5108.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Trial date set for man accused of throwing punch Kid Rock concert

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien

A trial date has been set for Craig Malcolm Lawson, the 34-year-old Canadian citizen accused of throwing a single punch following a Kid Rock concert at Darien Lake and seriously injuring a former WNY man.

Jury selection is set to begin at 10 a.m., June 23 for an anticipated four-day trial.

Lawson is accused of punching Jason McNeil, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. McNeil reportedly hit his head on the pavement. He was in a coma following the incident and sources say he will never fully recover.

He is charged with assault in the second degree.

It remains possible Lawson will accept a plea offer. He has until April 24 to decide, Judge Robert C. Noonan said.

Lawson did not appear in court today and the last time he appeared -- for an evidence hearing -- he was 45 minutes late.

Noonan asked his attorney today why Lawson had a hard time crossing the border that day and the attorney said INS agents would not initially let him cross because of the pending felony charge. The attorney said he will provide his client with a letter to present at the border before his April 24 appearance.

Friday, February 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

Law and Order: Parolee accused of possessing needle

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Le Roy

Michele L. Difalco, 25, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with possession of a hypodermic instrument. Batavia PD assisted NYS Parole at the residence of Difalco. Difalco was allegedly found in possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Dustin M. Fleming, 26, of Telephone Road, Le Roy, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Fleming was arrested after Batavia PD officers responded to Denny's Restaurant to investigate a complaint of an intoxicated person at that location. Fleming was found allegedly in possession of a small amount of marijuana and a glass pipe.

John Thomas Harley, 35, of Rich Place, Lacawana, is charged with operating with a suspended registration and aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd. Harley was arrested on a warrant upon his release from the Erie County Jail. Following arraignment in Darien Town Court, he was jailed on $500 bail or $1,000 bond.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Photo: Snow ripples off Richley Road

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, weather

I started to call these snowdrifts, but they look more like the ripples left in sand as the tide retreats at a beach.

We are more than half way through winter.

The photo was taken off Richley Road, Darien, this morning.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Nik Wallenda to perform twice daily shows at Darien Lake this summer

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Darien, darien lake theme park, nik wallenda

Press release:

With decades of experience captivating audiences around the world, aerialist and high-wire artist Nik Wallenda will spend the Summer of 2014 high above Darien Lake. Heralded around the world as “King of the High Wire,” Nik’s high-flying stunts have landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records eight times and his 2012 walk across Niagara Falls made him a household name across the globe.

Darien Lake and presenting sponsor Tim Horton’s Café and Bake Shop announced today that the internationally renowned daredevil will star in “Nik Wallenda: Beyond the Falls,” featuring the Wallenda Family. The 60-minute thrill spectacular will be produced by Nik himself, exclusively for Darien Lake.

Showing twice daily in the 1,800-seat Galaxy Theatre from June 23 through Sept. 1st (dark Mondays), the show will mesmerize audiences with performances from the world's best aerialists and stunt performers and climax with the breathtaking Wallenda Family Pyramid finale. The amazing stunt features Nik, his wife Erendira, and other members of the Wallenda family walking untethered, high above the stage.

Wallenda’s involvement won’t stop at the Galaxy Theater. Nik Wallenda Productions, Inc., will be crafting additional entertainment for Darien Lake, including a short film chronicling the history of the Wallendas, an interactive tight-rope training academy with hands-on instruction for park guests, and “pop up” performances throughout the park from the cast and crew.

All performances will be free with park admission and for Darien Lake Vacations guests, with preferred seating and VIP packages sold on a limited basis. 2014 season-pass holders will receive exclusive show offers and event invites throughout the show's run. Discounted early-bird season passes are available at Tops Friendly Markets and online at www.darienlake.com.

“The level of entertainment Nik will bring to our guests this season is unprecedented,” said Vince Nicoletti, director of Marketing at Darien Lake. “This truly will be an incomparable entertainment experience.”

“My family and I are thrilled to be back in the area and spending our summer at Darien Lake,” said Nik Wallenda. “With more than a million people coming to the park every season, it’s the perfect location for our act and we can’t wait to get started.”

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Assault suspect reportedly told deputy 'he never should have shoved my wife'

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Darien
Craig Lawson

The man accused of punching another patron following the Kid Rock concert in July at Darien Lake kept muttering, "he shouldn't have shoved my wife," according to the deputy who arrested him.

The officer testified at a hearing in Genesee County Court today, called a suppression hearing, which is a chance for the defense to challenge whether certain pieces of evidence will be allowed at trial.

In this case, Judge Robert C. Noonan ruled that Deputy Lonnie Nati will be allowed to testify about what the possible statements made by the suspect, 34-year-old Craig Malcolm Lawson, of Talbot Street, Courtland, Ontario, Canada.

Lawson is charged with assault in the second degree, a Class D felony.

He allegedly delivered a single punch to Jason McNeil, a former WNY resident who lives in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

McNeil was hospitalized and in a coma for weeks following the incident.

A source in contact with the family said McNeil is back in home, but "he will never be the same." His injuries are described as "catastrophic" and McNeil requires 24/7 care.

Nati was on the stand for about 30 minutes, being peppered with rapid fire questions from, first, Robert Zickl, an assistant District Attorney, and then by Jessica Kulpit, representing Lawson.

Nati testified that he was working the night of the incident in the parking lot of the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.

At some time around 11 p.m., after the concert, deputies were handling crowd control and traffic during a period known at "the dump" (when everybody leaves and deputies and Darien Lake security work to get the parking lot cleared of cars as quickly as possible). 

Nati received a call of a fight in the area of South PAC. He was only about 50 or 60 feet away at the time of the call, he testified.

When he arrived, concert security had Lawson detained and another man was laying on the ground.

Nati directed Lawson over to a bench. Lawson said, "he never should have shoved my wife," while sitting on the bench, Nati said.

Within a minute a woman ran up, whom Nati later identified as Lawson's wife, and told Lawson not to talk to Nati.

"It was kind of funny," Nati said, "she kept running up to him, putting her hand on his mouth telling him to 'shut up, you want an attorney.' "

During this period, Lawson said he wanted an attorney.

In a few different ways and a few times, Kulpit asked if Nati read him his Miranda warnings. Nati answered pretty much the same each time: "No, because I didn't ask him any questions."

Nati said at no time did he ever question Lawson except to obtain what's known as pedigree information (name, date of birth, address, etc.).

From the time Nati first made contact with Lawson, through the ride in the security golf cart to the security trailer, to the time sitting in his patrol car while being booked, Nati said Lawson kept mumbling, "he never should have shoved my wife."

Nati described Lawson as intoxicated, but very cooperative.

"He was continuing with his drunken mutterings about 'he shouldn't have shoved my wife,' " Nati said.

The officer said he didn't observe any cuts or blood on Lawson.

After the hearing, when asked if she anticipated a trial for Lawson, Kulpit -- filling in for attorney Joel Daniels -- would not answer the question.

No trial date has been set. Lawson is scheduled to appear in court again at 1:30 p.m.

Previously:

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