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CHESTER — Police hope that a crash reconstruction and vehicle computers can help them determine why a Chester man crossed into the oncoming lane of Route 8 on Sunday, causing a double fatal crash.

Warren County sheriff’s officers believe Walter Christie, 89, of Chestertown, was heading east on Route 8 in a 2004 Subaru Legacy when he veered into the oncoming lane in a right curve near Hill Bly Acres, hitting a westbound Mitsubishi Outlander sport-utility vehicle driven by John M. Lewis, 70, of Chestertown. The collision was reported at 9:59 a.m.

The crash killed both men and injured a passenger in Lewis’ vehicle, Ralph Lewis, 66, of Burnt Hills. He was taken to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment of injuries that police said did not appear life-threatening. Hospital staff would not release his condition Monday.

The Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety and Criminal Investigation units are investigating the crash and initially determined it did not appear that Christie was impaired or driving too fast. Sheriff’s Lt. Peter DiFiore said the investigation was continuing as of Monday, with no new findings available.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ben Geisler said there was no indication of mechanical problems with Christie's vehicle, and that it appeared Christie may have "overcorrected" when veering off the right side of the road, and wound up in the wrong lane.

He said Ralph Lewis, who was John Lewis' brother, said Christie was "struggling" to control the car as he came around the curve.

The speed limit is 55 on the highway, with a recommended speed of 45 mph in the curve.

"It was just a really unfortunate accident," Geisler said. "Hopefully when we get the 'black boxes" they will tell us some more."

Christie was conscious at the scene but not able to say what happened, Geisler said. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Autopsies were to be conducted on both victims, which should shed light on whether Christie suffered a medical problem that could have played a part in the collision. A crash reconstruction based on skid marks and other road markings, as well as review of whatever on-board computers the vehicles had, will be part of the analysis.

The collision happened in an area where there are a number of curves in the road between Loon Lake and the Route 9 intersection. The pavement on that section of state highway had been in poor condition for years, but had been the scene of work by state Department of Transportation crews and contractors in recent summers.

“The road is in much better shape than it was,” said Chester Supervisor Craig Leggett.

Leggett said the men were known around Chester and had lived in the region for years.

Leggett said the weekend was even more tragic in Chester, as a longtime resident of the town died of natural causes at home as well, despite lifesaving efforts.

State Police, the New York State Department of Transportation, Chestertown, Horicon and Riverside Fire Departments assisted the sheriff’s office, as did emergency squads from North Warren, Johnsburg and Minerva.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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