Investigators still aren’t sure what, aside from speed, caused two motorcyclists killed late Tuesday on the Youngman Expressway to go careening to their deaths.
Amherst Police Capt. Patrick McKenna said so far it remains unclear whether statements from a passenger on one of the bikes, who was injured and is reportedly in stable condition, will help pinpoint the final seconds.
McKenna, an accident reconstruction specialist, said a preliminary investigation found a group of nine or 10 motorcyclists were headed east on the 290, clocked at one point by a State Trooper at 120 mph. Initial reports indicated one of the pack lost control, and then a second went down as they tried to pass a double tractor trailer traveling in the center lane as they crossed over Niagara Falls Boulevard into Amherst from Tonawanda.
“Something happened from the middle to the rear of the truck when the two bikes were trying to pass the truck. We don’t know what it was,” McKenna said.
Killed in the accident around 10:30 Tuesday on the eastbound I-290 were Jose I. Amaro, 29, of Lackawanna, who was operating a 2008 Suzuki, and Richard Caramazza, 27, of Amherst, who was operating a 2009 Suzuki — both small, lightweight motorcycles built for speed.
Shortly before the accident happened, McKenna said a state trooper clocked several of roughly 10 motorcycles traveling at 120 mph, but declined to give chase due to the speed, McKenna said.
Tori M. Aceti, 21, of Niagara Falls, a passenger on Amaro’s motorcycle, was taken to Erie County Medical Center. She as well as Amaro were thrown under the rear wheels of the rig, though Aceti somehow wasn’t hit by the vehicle’s wheels.
Friends say Aceti is expected to be released from ECMC today.
McKenna couldn’t say whether interviews with Aceti will shed light on what exactly happened to cause the wreck.
“Even with that — there’s still a few things we’re checking out. We have to do inspections of the two bikes. I don’t know what we’re going to find.”
Four other riders offered statements to police on the scene, after the trooper noticed the wreckage and radioed to police in Amherst.
“It sounds to me like there were two groups that kind of split up. The first group of five kind of took off. The other four stopped and we took statements,” McKenna said.
Friends of the deceased interviewed on scene said Amaro and Caramazza were “excellent riders.”
When told that the bikes may have been going in excess of 100 mph, Mike Mangiapane said, “That’s not that fast for those bikes.”
The accident scene on the raised highway spanned some 200 yards with the two victims coming to rest about 250 feet apart. The tractor trailer stood parked on the shoulder of the highway another 350 feet past the accident scene.
Town of Tonawanda police closed the eastbound lanes and forced motorists to exit south on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Members of the Brighton Volunteer Fire Co. later took over that duty. The westbound 290 was not closed.
Lanes reopened around 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Amherst police said they are looking to speak to any motorist who might have seen what happened and could provide information in their investigation. Witnesses are asked to call the police station at 689-1311.
Contact reporter Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 114.
John J. Hopkins contributed to this report.