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Andrea L. Glinski of the Town of Tonawanda was arraigned Friday but did not enter plea.
Bill Wippert/Buffalo News

Updated: 03/14/09 07:10 AM

Woman charged in Amherst hit-run

Intense investigation leads to arrest

By Gene Warner and Harold McNeil

Good old-fashioned police work— contacting collision shops and auto-parts stores — led Amherst police to arrest a Town of Tonawanda woman in a hit-and-run accident last weekend that seriously injured two young women.

Andrea L. Glinski, 30, has been charged with leaving the scene of a serious-injury accident, a felony, and failure to use due care toward a pedestrian, following her arrest late Thursday night by the Amherst police Accident Investigation Unit.

The arrest capped an exhaustive investigation, after police learned late Thursday afternoon that a collision shop in Hamburg had ordered parts for a 2003 black Jeep Liberty from a Town of Tonawanda auto-parts store.

Amherst police went to Hamburg to see the vehicle, obtained a search warrant for it and arrested Glinski late Thursday night.

“She gave us a statement that allowed us to lay these charges,” said Amherst Police Capt. Patrick McKenna, commander of the investigation unit.

Glinski was arraigned Friday afternoon in Amherst Town Court, as her parents, a brother and her best friend looked on.

Glinski did not enter a plea, because the Amherst court lacked jurisdiction, according to Amherst Town Justice Mark G. Farrell. Glinski’s lawyer, Paul Cambria, said his client will plead not guilty.

Farrell set a felony hearing for 1:30 p. m. Thursday, and set Glinski’s bail at $100,000, even though he expressed concern that Glinski made no effort to contact law enforcement or hospital officials prior to her arrest.

However, Cambria assured the judge that Glinski, a promotions director for Entercom, owner of radio stations WBEN and WGR, was not a flight risk. Farrell also suspended Glinski’s driver’s license for a year.

Amherst detectives are investigating whether alcohol use could have been involved in the crash. While it might be difficult to prove any alcohol involvement so long afterward, the State Legislature in 2005 closed the “hit, run and hide” loophole in state law, by increasing the penalties for leaving the scene of a serious-injury or fatal accident.

The break in this case came after police Investigator Scott Lawida had contacted the Tonawanda auto-parts store, Parts Channel Inc. on River Road, late Thursday morning.

“He was notifying every auto dealership, every collision shop, every parts store and salvage yard to be on the lookout for a grill, hood damage, anything associated with front-end damage on a black Jeep Liberty from 2002 to 2004,” McKenna said.

Late Thursday afternoon, someone from Wally’s Collision on South Park Avenue in Hamburg ordered front-end parts for such a vehicle from the Tonawanda store. The clerk from the auto-parts store told Wally’s owner that Amherst police were looking for such a vehicle.

Wally’s then called Town of Hamburg police, which relayed the message to Amherst police.

“We went there [to Wally’s] right away and determined that that was the vehicle we wanted,” McKenna said. That launched the events that led to Glinski’s arrest by investigators Terrence Walsh and Robert Mc- Mahon.

Besides contacting all the auto dealerships and collision shops, Amherst police had learned that about 550 black Jeep Libertys from those three years are registered in Erie County.

“Some of my team actually was going door-to-door to contact the owners of these vehicles,” McKenna said.

But Thursday’s break in the case avoided the need for continuing with that gumshoe police work.

“I’m just glad we were able to bring this to a close, not only for us as a police agency, but also for the two families,” McKenna said.

One of the two women struck, Amy E. Stewart, 22, a University at Buffalo graduate student from Grand Island, has remained in a coma. Late Friday, she remained in critical but stable condition in Erie County Medical Center’s trauma intensive- care unit.

“There’s no change,” her father, Robert Stewart, said late Thursday. “She’s still in a coma. It’s going to be a long, long, long haul.”

Her friend, Rachel E. Baird, 21, a Daemen College senior from East Syracuse, remained in fair condition in ECMC.

Stewart’s aunt, Mary May, was in court Friday for Glinski’s arraignment.

“I think [Glinski] deserves to be punished for her crimes,” May told reporters after the hearing.

“These ladies’ lives have been unfairly changed now,” she said.

Police have said that the accident occurred at about 1:40 a. m. last Saturday, when a westbound vehicle on Main Street near Campus Drive hit the two young women, as they were crossing from the south side of the street to the north.

Meanwhile, a special Mass for Stewart has been scheduled for 9:30 a. m. today in St. Stephen Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.