Woman dies in police custody following arrest for DUI

May 29, 2015

Credit Town of Tonawanda Police / www.tonawanda.ny.us/ttpd

Town of Tonawanda Police say standard procedure was followed to the letter in an arrest that resulted in the death of a Grand Island woman.

59 year old Peggy Gaiser was taken into custody Wednesday evening around 6 p.m., after she ran her car into the back of another vehicle at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Sheridan Drive. The accident revealed Gaiser to be under the influence of drugs, and in possession of suspected Morphine pills.

Gaiser was charged with Vehicle and Traffic Misdemeanors for “Operating a Motor Vehicle Impaired by Drugs” and “Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 3rd Degree,” other Vehicle and Traffic violations, and “Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree.”

After being taken to Town of Tonawanda police headquarters, Gaiser underwent medical evaluation by paramedics and a suicide screening. She also consented to blood and urine toxicology testing. Town of Tonawanda Police Captain Joseph Carosi says Gaiser was cooperative throughout the investigation, and that nothing seemed unusual when she was placed in a cell.

“She just exhibited signs of intoxication from narcotic analgesics,” said Carosi. “Nothing extraordinary stood out in her behavior. She just seemed to be impaired by drugs.”

A female guard, known as a police matron, was assigned to watch Gaiser in her cell. Around 1:15 a.m. on Thursday morning, the matron noticed Gaiser had stopped snoring in her sleep, and realized she was no longer breathing.

Nobody ever wants to see an event like this happen.

First responders attempted resuscitation, and Gaiser was taken to Kenmore Mercy Hospital where she was ultimately pronounced dead. Carosi says an autopsy performed Thursday afternoon offered no explanation as to the immediate cause of death.

“Nothing conclusive was received as a result of that, so we’re going to be waiting on toxicology to see if that shows any kind of a better reason why this event occurred,” said Carosi.

Carosi says Town of Tonawanda Police are understandably shaken by the incident.

“Any time an event of this nature happens in our department or any department, it makes us very saddened at the outcome,” said Carosi. “Nobody ever wants to see an event like this happen.”

In addition to the toxicology screening, Gaiser’s medical history is part of the ongoing investigation. Gaiser’s family was notified of her death.