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Grand Island student dies in crash
News Staff Reporter
Andrew Dlugosz was killed in a car crash Saturday.


A popular Grand Island college student was killed and his friend was badly injured early Saturday when they were thrown from their vehicle when it crashed and rolled on the Youngmann Highway, Town of Tonawanda police said.

Andrew Dlugosz, 20, an accomplished athlete at Grand Island High School who would have started his junior year at the University at Buffalo in two weeks, died in the crash.

Dlugosz was a passenger in a 2000 Chevrolet Blazer driven by his friend, Jason Van Dusen, also a 20-year-old Grand Island resident.

Van Dusen remained in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Erie County Medical Center Saturday night, according to a hospital official.

The crash occurred at 4:13 a.m. on the section of the Youngmann near Delaware Avenue, when Van Dusen's Blazer hit a 2005 Chevy sedan from behind, police said.

The Blazer careened into the highway guard rail and flipped over, throwing Van Dusen and Dlugosz - who were not wearing seat belts - out of the vehicle, Officer Richard Engler said.

A third passenger, who was wearing a seat belt, was not injured, said Engler, who did not identify the passenger. The occupants of the sedan were not hurt, the officer said.

Police closed a section of the highway for several hours Saturday while they investigated the crash.

Investigators are looking at alcohol and reckless driving as factors, according to town police.

As word of the accident spread, a steady stream of Dlugosz's friends and schoolmates trekked to his parents' house on Grand Island to express their condolences and share their memories of Dlugosz.

Dlugosz was studying English and history at UB and was set on becoming a lawyer.

Friends and family described him as a determined athlete who had a sharp sense of humor and a willingness to challenge authority, within limits.

"He certainly did live his life with a certain intensity," said Dlugosz's father, Mike, as he sat in his dining room Saturday afternoon.

Andrew Dlugosz played football, lacrosse and soccer at Grand Island High School. He played football and lacrosse his junior year despite a significant back injury that ultimately sidelined him his senior year.

"He insisted on playing through the pain," Mike Dlugosz said.

He was perhaps best known on the island for a game he invented for his friends and neighbors that combined the rules of soccer and basketball.

Mike Dlugosz also recalled Andrew, at a very young age, debating with his mother, Frances, the rules of the household and why he had to obey them.

"You know, Mom, technically "because' is not a reason," Andrew Dlugosz said.

He loved his parents and siblings dearly, relatives said, and he never left the house without saying, "Love you, Dad. Love you, Mom," and giving everyone a hug.

"Those were the last words he said to me [Friday night]," said his father.

News Staff Reporter Matthew Spina contributed to this report.