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Northbound North Grand Island Bridge closed after fatal motorcycle crash

By Gene Warner - News Staff Reporter
Updated: 10/14/08 9:14 AM

A tow truck removes the motorcycle and van involved in the accident on the northbound Grand Island Bridge.

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A fatal crash involving a motorcyclist closed the northbound North Grand Island Bridge throughout rush hour this morning, and a later five-car pileup on the southbound bridge caused problems on that span, Thruway State Police reported.

The first crash, which occurred at about 6:35 a.m. on the northbound bridge at the north end of Grand Island, took the life of a 32-year-old motorcyclist from Cheektowaga. Authorities still were in the process of contacting his relatives at mid-morning.

Following the fatal crash, motorists on the southbound bridge between Niagara Falls and Grand Island began rubber-necking, resulting in a five-vehicle crash that was reported at 7:23 a.m. Authorities reopened the southbound bridge at about 8:20 a.m.

The northbound bridge remained closed to traffic shortly before 9 a.m., leaving a huge northbound backup that extended to Whitehaven Road, troopers said.

"Anyone who wants to leave the island is going to have to leave on the southbound bridge at this point," Trooper Daniel Golinski said.

Thruway State Police said they hoped to have one of the two northbound lanes of traffic reopened by about 9:30 a.m.

Capt. Michael Nigrelli said the fatal crash occurred after the driver of a red pickup truck slowed down behind a disabled van in the right lane. The motorcyclist was right behind the pickup truck.

"For whatever reason, he hit the back of the pickup truck," Nigrelli said. "Both he and the motorcycle went airborne."

The motorcyclist then landed under a tractor-trailer in the left lane of the bridge.