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Guilty Plea in Niagara Falls Motorcycle Deaths

Published January 14, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

A tragic accident last November – in which a man and two women were struck and killed by a motorcycle – has resulted in guilty pleas to vehicular manslaughter and DWI.

A 53-year-old Niagara Falls man pleaded guilty January 10 and will be sentenced in March. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

There are approximately 675,000 New York drivers with motorcycle licenses and 350,000 registered motorcycles in the state.

In 2011, there were 167 people killed in New York motorcycle crashes.

This is from the Niagara Gazette:

[The motorcyclist] admitted that he lost control of his motorcycle while driving intoxicated on Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, drove off the road onto the bike path and caused the death of 26-year-old Jocelyn Elberson, of Tonawanda, and 81-year-old Sheila Pelton, of East Amherst, as well as causing serious physical injury to 79-year-old Foster Pelton.

The crash took place between Campbell Boulevard and Hopkins Road, in a stretch where the bike path runs parallel to the road.

Elberson and Sheila Pelton were transported to Millard Fillmore Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. Foster Pelton was transported to Erie County Medical Center with serious injuries. He was released from the hospital Nov. 27.

The accident took place at around 3:20 PM on an unseasonably warm, sunny day in November. Jocelyn Elberson was on a walk with her new puppy, mother Kathleen, and aunt.

“My mother and aunt stopped to talk for a moment, and Jocelyn kept walking,” Brett Elberson, Jocelyn’s brother said in November. “In less than a second, the motorcycle came out and hit her. He never tried to stop, never tried to swerve.”

The motorcyclist was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. He was released days later.

The New York DMV offers a Basic Rider Course – which provides instruction and field training – at 55 locations throughout the state. The MSF trained approximately 17,000 motorcyclists in 2011.

More than 40 percent of new motorcycle licenses issued by DMV in 2011 were to graduates of the MSF course. The program has been credited for reducing New York motorcycle crashes and deaths.

Learn more about the New York Motorcycle Safety Course here.

People who are killed or hurt in a New York motorcycle wreck caused by the negligence of someone else might be entitled to financial compensation.


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