Buffalo News


UB cancels activities after fatal car crash
News Staff Reporter

Police are investigating reports that two teenagers involved in a fatal Grand Island crash Sunday morning had been drinking at a University at Buffalo fraternity party before the accident.

As a result, UB officials announced Wednesday that they are suspending all fraternity and sorority activities through at least Saturday.

The university said the suspension is in response to possible illegal drug use and underage drinking at a "Greek letter organization" over the weekend, according to a statement issued by Dennis R. Black, UB's vice president for student affairs.

Black declined to link the suspension to the Grand Island accident.

However, authorities confirmed the connection and said police are investigating reports that the two teenagers had been drinking at the UB party, and then at a Main Street bar, shortly before the crash.

A car driven by Travis Hennigar, 19, sped west down Bedell Road, traveling upward of 100 mph, before it became airborne after hitting a culvert parallel to West River Parkway and plunged into the frigid Niagara River at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, police said.

The car was found, but Hennigar, an Erie Community College student, remains missing and is presumed dead. The Sheriff's Department ended its search Tuesday.

The passenger, Jeffrey Critelli, 18, escaped by kicking out the car's sunroof. He drifted for about 200 feet, got out of the water and went to a nearby residence to call for help. He was treated in Erie County Medical Center and released.

Critelli is a UB student majoring in architecture, according to a university directory. His family declined to comment when reached by telephone Wednesday night.

The Erie County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation into the crash. Officials there did not return messages seeking comment on the incident late Wednesday.

A campus investigation is ongoing into allegations of illegal and improper activity at one of its Greek organizations, according to the UB statement.

The people and organizations suspected of being involved have been advised that charges could be brought against them, the statement said.

Any of those alleged violations would violate UB's Student Conduct Rules and the rules governing the activities of fraternities and sororities, the university said.

During the period of suspended activities, organizations are barred from sponsoring or advertising activities, participating in Greek events and activities, using campus facilities and inducting new members.

Before activities resume, the university plans to hold a campus meeting with Greek organizations and their new members to re-emphasize UB and state policies against hazing and substance abuse.

The university will decide following the meeting about resuming activities, the UB statement said.