At 11:07 a.m. Saturday, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office patrol units were dispatched to the area of 5355 Walmore Road. They investigated a confirmed report of a female driver retrieving a long gun from the bushes and handing it to a male passenger of a black, four-door sedan. Further information indicated the female re-entered the vehicle and traveled southbound toward Saunders Settlement Road.
NCSO marked patrol vehicles located a vehicle matching the description at the intersection of Walmore Road and Saunders Settlement Road, Route 31. Emergency lights and sirens were activated in attempt to stop the suspect vehicle, when the suspect vehicle fled westbound onto Saunders Settlement Road.
A vehicle pursuit ensued for several minutes, while assistance from an airborne Border Patrol Helicopter obtained a visual of the suspect vehicle fleeing westbound on Buffalo Avenue into the City of Niagara Falls from 77th Street. The suspect vehicle traveled off the northside of the roadway and struck a street sign, before traveling back onto the roadway, where it continued several hundred feet before traveling back off the northside of roadway striking a utility pole head on in the area of 3163 Buffalo Ave.
The driver and passenger of the suspect vehicle were taken into police custody and evaluated by medical personnel for minor injuries at the scene. The driver, 22-year-old Maria Hansgate, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, along with numerous traffic violations. The passenger, 28-year-old Tommy Kraft, was turned over to the City of Niagara Falls Police for domestic violence-related charges. Future charges with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office are pending.
Both individuals charged are innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.