GATES, N.Y. — Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode says Wednesday’s crash on Spencerport Road that claimed two lives was a completely avoidable tragedy.
“It makes the streets of our community very dangerous with this opioid epidemic, because that could have been any one of our loved ones,” VanBrederode said.
Dianne Donnelly and Bill Lawson were killed after police say a Ford F-250 driven by Anthony Vandoren, 43, crossed over the double yellow line and struck their vehicle head-on around 11 a.m.
Police say Vandoren was found with heroin, and he was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and driving while impaired, among other charges, while in the hospital.
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“Opioids have such a strong hold on someone’s brain, that it is literally 24/7,” VanBrederode said. “So you will have people at work using opioids, just to get through their day.”
But VanBrederode says that isn’t the only concerning matter of this tragedy.
Vandoren was driving a work vehicle, despite not possessing a valid license for the last 20 years.
VanBrederode says in that time, Vandoren has received multiple tickets for driving with a suspended license.
“He’s gotten away with it, the system has allowed him to get away with it,” VanBrederode said. “The law was written with consequences in place, they made it that misdemeanor with a year in jail. The problem is it’s not enforced in our courts for whatever reason.”
That’s why VanBrederode says they also charged Vanderon’s employer for facilitating an unlicensed operation and multiple Department of Transportation infractions.
At the time of the crash, Vandoren was driving a vehicle owned by Jarret Defazio, 26, who owns UA Maintenance LLC.
“It was a vehicle he was able to access through his employer, and had anyone just done a check, you would’ve seen he didn’t have a driver license and never should’ve been allowed in a company car,” VanBrederode said.
He says it’s important to learn from tragedies like this, and is calling on New York State to do more to prevent these kinds of things from happening again.
“They should be monitoring and asking the same question: how are people not being held in custody for this? Why are we not seizing cars so they can’t drive? Stuff like that,” VanBrederode said.
Vandoren had two previous outstanding warrants, and was given a $25,000 cash bail.