Tonawanda News —
In just three days, four individuals were charged for driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol after causing accidents in the Town of Tonawanda.
Although the majority of the incidents were minor and did not involve any injuries, a five-car pileup at Sheridan Drive and Somerville Avenue Dec. 21 sent both the driver and his passenger to the hospital.
Police said William M. Collins was driving his red sedan eastbound on Sheridan Drive when he failed to stop and rear ended the car ahead of him, causing a chain reaction.
The accident took place at around 5 p.m.
Collins told officers he was coming from Devlin’s Deuce on Sheridan and was headed home.
Collins was charged with felony DWI, operating a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, refusal to take a breath test, following too close, speeding, first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and operating a motor vehicle without insurance.
The report states that Collins has multiple DWI convictions.
Collins refused a breath test, but a court order was obtained to take his blood. He was admitted to Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
“He was likely released at some point after being processed, and will come back for court within a few weeks,” Lt. Nick Bado said.
Collins’ passenger, Sean P. Collins, was taken to DeGraff Memorial Hospital and received 13 stitches.
The other drivers involved in the crash were not injured.
The same day, James L. Burandt struck a tree after spinning his vehicle and losing control of it. He told officers he had a few Labatt beers. He suffered a small cut to his head and was taken to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for evaluation.
Burandt was charged with DWI, operating a motor vehicle without insurance, operating a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, failure to notify change of address, speeding and prudent and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.
On Dec. 22, Demetrios Papvramidis was arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a controlled substance, operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, having a controlled substance in a non-original container and speeding.
He drove his car into a ditch near the intersection of I-290 and I-190 and told officers he had taken a few shots of vodka.
Officers transported him away from the snowy scene for safety reasons and administered a breath test. His blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.04 percent, though officers said they believed he may have taken drugs.
“He blew a really low count, so officers obtained a blood draw and believe he was on prescription medications,” Bado said.
He was issued appearance and traffic tickets.
Then, on Dec. 23, Joshua A. Velez hit a utility pole on River Road, shredding it to pieces.
Velez, 22, of Hinds Street, City of Tonawanda, was then arrested for DWI and failure to keep right. His blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent and he was issued three traffic tickets.
Despite the rash of minor incidents, Bado said the holiday season doesn’t always result in more DWI arrests.
“It’s hit or miss,” he said. “What you might consider a night where we would see a lot of them, we may not. And on some random Wednesday night, we may see more. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason.”
Bado did say there may be a higher probability of DWI arrests on nights when people are out at holiday parties, but police saw fewer DWI arrests in 2012 than 2011.
“If anything is going up, it’s drug related incidents,” he said.