A Ransomville man, with an apparently lengthy list of medical problems, has pleaded guilty to two counts of criminally negligent homicide for an accident that left two people dead.
Frederick Lederhouse, 61, entered his plea during a proceeding before State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. on Wednesday. His case had been pending before a Niagara County grand jury, but Lederhouse struck a deal with prosecutors before being indicted.
Assistant District Attorney Claudette Caldwell told Kloch that Lederhouse was driving his pick-up truck on Wilson Burt Road, on March 27, when he struck the rear of a car driven by Cathy World, 58, of Wilson.
“The black box in the truck recorded that he was driving at 86 miles an hour when he struck (World’s) car,” Caldwell said. “A reconstruction (of the accident) placed the speed at 78 miles an hour.”
Caldwell said the force of the crash drove World’s car off the road and into a ditch with Lederhouse’s truck behind her.
“(Lederhouse) went off the road, then corrected his vehicle, came out of the ditch, crossed the road and struck (a second car) head on.”
That vehicle was driven by Ronald Zauner, 69, of Wilson. Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the crash found both Zauner and World unconscious and in their vehicles. Zauner was pronounced dead at the scene.
World was taken to Eastern Niagara Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Lederhouse was also taken to the Newfane hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Accident investigators said Lederhouse had a high level of Xanax in his blood at the time of the crash. Caldwell said prosecutors believed the high level of the anti-anxiety drug showed Lederhouse was not fit to drive and that led to the criminal charges in the case.