ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Stay up to date on the latest headlines in today’s Sunrise Smart Start on Thursday, April 28, 2022. 


Alcohol a factor in 490 rollover crash, 2 hospitalized, 1 critically injured

Two people were hospitalized, including one that faces life-threatening injuries, after a rollover crash on 490 between the 31F and East Rochester Wednesday night.

Deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office say a preliminary investigation suggests alcohol or drugs appear to be contributing factors in the incident.

According to officials, the car involved is believed to have been travelling westbound on 490 at the time of the crash. The car was the sole vehicle involved in this incident.

Police said the center lane going west and the left lane and shoulder on east bound were closed to traffic for several hours overnight.

An investigation is currently ongoing. Anyone that observed the incident is asked to call 911.

NTSB: Investigation into Mercy Flight helicopter crash will take months

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board provided an update in Elba Wednesday on the deadly Mercy Flight helicopter crash that killed two yesterday.

In the crash were pilots, 60-year-old James Sauer of Churchville, and 60-year-old Stewart Dietrick, of Texas.

Sauer was a retired New York State Police pilot, who also served as a Rochester police officer from 1993 to 2001. Sauer spoke with News 8 in 2020, when he celebrated the end of his 40-year military flight career.

The helicopter, the bell 429, crashed during a training mission, after taking off from the Genesee County Airport in Batavia — about three miles from the crash site.

According to New York State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski, the helicopter crashed into power lines as it went down, and weather is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Investigators said there were multiple witnesses to the incident.

Witnesses in the area say they heard loud boom, and saw the helicopter fell from the sky. Officials say they are working to confirm reports that the helicopter’s engine was heard cutting in and out before the crash.

Upon crashing the helicopter was on fire, but it was extinguished quickly.

Aaron McCarter, an Air Safety Investigator with the Nation Transportation Safety Board explained the next steps of the investigation.

“Our job is to investigate and determine the probable cause of this tragic accident,” McCarter said. He will be on scene to examine the wreckage for three to five days, and will release a preliminary report in 10 days.

“Today, what we’re looking at is the human, machine and environment. The human being the two pilots involved. The machine and the technical aspects of the helicopter. the environment is the weather and Air traffic control and how all three of those things interacted with each other,” McCarter said.

A lot of what the investigators will be looking at are the mechanics of the helicopter, and they are also focusing on the training involved here, how much time did Sauer and Dietrick have with the Bell 429?

The NYSB says this investigation will take months.

“The accident scene is not very conducive for an on scene investigation,” said McCarter explaining that the scene has mud about 6 inches deep, with the wreckable spread out over 2,000 feet.

McCarter also explained the tail boom — the back end that contains the tail rotor — had separated from the helicopter and was found 300 feet from the main wreckage. When a tail rotor comes off, the helicopter loses its sense of direction.

“So our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these two pilots,” McCarter said.

Sauer of Churchville attended worship at the Open Door Baptist Church. His pastor, Bill Finnerty, said Sauer was the ultimate servant to his community and country. 

“He was a cop, he was retired military, and then even in his retirement, he goes to Mercy Flight. But here at the church, he served in our children’s ministry,” he says.

The wreckage will be transported to facility in Delaware to do a two dimensional assembly of it to see how the helicopter came apart and what happened first.

News 8 was told the aircraft was made in Canada and does not have a black box.

Mercy Flight is a non-profit provider of emergency and non-emergency air and ground medical transport that serves throughout the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions of the state.

Ontario woman arrested after string of purse, wallet thefts in Webster

An Ontario woman was arrested on several charges Wednesday following a string of purse and wallet thefts in Webster stores.

According to police, 36-year-old Jenna Hilderbrandt is charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree for following women inside stores and stealing their purse or wallet as their backs were turned.

Investigators claim the woman would reach into purses and take exposed wallets, or the entire purse itself. Victims would later find that their credit card was fraudulently used at other locations.

Authorities say an investigation revealed the crimes involved several victims who shopped at local stores in the area of Webster. The total number of victims is not known at this time.

Hilderbrandt was secured at the Monroe County Jail on bail due to her prior arrest history.

Officials say there are several additional charges forthcoming.

Tractor-trailer collides with bridge in Rochester, White Claws spilled into roadway

A tractor-trailer collided with a bridge in Rochester Wednesday morning, spilling alcoholic seltzer beverages into the roadway.

Rochester police officials say officers responded to the area of Saint Paul Street and Central Avenue for the report of a tractor-trailer colliding with the bridge around 11 a.m.

Authorities say the vehicle was only occupied by the driver, who was uninjured. According to police, no criminal charges are anticipated.

Rochester Fire Department and CSX officials also responded to the scene.

As a result of the collision, the top of the tractor-trailer was damaged and dozens of White Claw Hard seltzers were seen crushed or rolling around in the roadway nearby.

Rochester activists, RPD speak on policy changes for protests

News 8 spoke with community activists and representatives of the Rochester Police Department after city officials announced changes to their practices in handling protests.

In response to racial injustice protests over the summer of 2020, many of which unfolded in front of the Rochester Public Safety Building, police must now approach large gatherings and protests in new ways.

Activists argue this is progress, while the Locust Club Union sees this as politicizing their jobs more. 

Beginning immediately, Rochester police can no longer use tear gas, flashbangs, or K-9 officers at protests. Pepper Ball use is also prohibited unless authorized by higher-ups.

Save Rochester organizer Mike Johnson applauds these changes, claiming some of his members were injured in May of 2020 from pepper balls.  

“A good friend of mine got hit with a pepper ball on the side of his face,” Johnson said. “He’s never been to another protest since. It’s another way to isolate people who are really working hard to see the effect of change.”  

A lot of these changes echo what the Rochester Police Accountability Board sent to the Chief’s office calling for reform after a Civil Rights lawsuit was filed against RPD for their handling of protestors in 2020.

The board is cautious with their optimism until they see what the new training looks like. 

“Could be a very good step in the right direction,” PAB Director Conor Reynolds said. “It all depends on if the training is effective and the rules being clear. Something like banning tear gas, what does that actually mean? We’ve got to see the details to know what the city is actually doing.” 

Locust Club Union President Mike Mazzeo expressed frustration, saying the city ignored input from officers and claim it puts them in more danger.  

These changes also prohibit the arrest of protestors unless they physically interfere with officers, and don’t allow police to tape over their badges unless authorized by the chief.

“We had protestors that were calling officers by name that were actually getting officers’ families on their cell phones and passing messages back and forth,” Mazzeo said. “No individual officers make that decision. That came directly from the leadership of the department at the time and for a specific reason.”  

Locust Club Union leaders call on Mayor Malik Evans to invite them personally to the table and negotiate policies and practices that directly impact officers in the field.

Weather forecast: Chilly mornings with full afternoon sunshine to finish April

Sun has emerged! A beautiful sky day is ahead with temperatures slowly recovering. A cold morning to start will be replaced by a manageable upper 40s to near 50° this afternoon.