Nine years after the death of a 22-year-old woman in a motor vehicle accident, tragedy has struck the same Buffalo family again.
Larry T. Cleveland Sr., 57, was fatally injured when he was hit by a vehicle as he was crossing Fillmore Avenue just after 10 a.m. Oct. 28. He was rushed to Erie County Medical Center but could not be saved.
On July 4, 2011, his daughter Lanesha was killed when her van was struck by a car that had run a red light at Delaware Avenue and West Tupper Street. She was pronounced dead at the scene. She was 22. No one was charged.
Now, a $2,500 reward is being offered through Crime Stoppers of WNY for information leading to the arrest or indictment of whomever is responsible for the hit-and-run that fatally injured Larry Cleveland Sr.
“After my sister, it’s just too much traumatic deaths,” Larry T. Cleveland, Jr., the elder Cleveland’s son, said in a telephone interview Monday.
Cleveland said his father was fatally struck as he was crossing Fillmore Avenue to return to his apartment building after visiting a gas station and mini market on Fillmore Avenue and Stanislaus Street.
“It was right across the street from his apartment. It was not far at all,” said Cleveland, who is a Buffalo firefighter.
“It was a hit-and-run. It would be nice to know who did this, if they could find who did this,” he added.
Police said the crash happened at 10:02 a.m. Wednesday at 869 Fillmore Ave., at the corner of Fillmore and Stanislaus Street, just south of Sycamore Street.
The vehicle police are looking for is a black 2007 BMW sedan, a police spokesman said in a news release.
Investigators believe it has heavy front-end damage and may be missing a driver’s side headlight. The vehicle may also have an “unregistered paper plate,” the spokesman said.
Cleveland also talked about the pain of losing his sister.
“The driver took off running and they never found him,” Cleveland said.
According to a July 5, 2011, article in The Buffalo News, a witness to the accident said the van driver swerved to try to dodge the car that ran the red light, but the van driver hit the front end of the car. Four passengers in the van were taken to various hospitals for treatment of injuries.
Larry Cleveland Jr. said his father was a Buffalo native who grew up on the city’s East Side and was a graduate of Riverside High School.
For many years, the elder Cleveland operated a machine press for Hobsons Dry Cleaners.
“He was really good with his hands, so he did a little work on the side,” Larry Cleveland Jr. said.
“My father was well-loved. He was well-known. He always had a joke. It was, like. you know, he would bring everybody together with a joke,” he added.
He said his father enjoyed listening to music and riding his bicycle.
“He would always tell me you stay out of trouble when you’re by yourself,” Cleveland said.
However, he added, his father also liked spending time with family.
“He was a proud father. He was proud of me. I just recently got married last year. He attended, and it was like one of those things where he wanted to say something, and we’re like, ‘Aww shoot, what is my dad about to say?’ It was like an opening statement that, man, everybody started busting out laughing. It was just like an epic moment,” Cleveland recalled.
He said his father was an avid newspaper reader, and shared a close bond with his mother, Nellie Cleveland.
“Like me, he was an only son, my grandmother’s only son,” Cleveland said.
In addition to his son and his mother, Larry Cleveland Sr. is survived by three daughters, Tamikka Lasenbery, Loreal Cleveland and Latia Cleveland and two sisters, LeAsia Cleveland and Lasherece Cleveland.
Those with information about the incident are being urged to come forward and call Crime Stoppersat 867-6161, or submit a tip by downloading the free Crime Stoppers mobile app “Buffalo Tips” from the Apple or Android store.
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