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Beacon Falls Man, 24, Dies Following Head On Crash

The accident happened on Route 8 in Naugatuck when a wrong-way driver collided with a car carrying a 24-year-old Beacon Falls man and a 22-year-old Stratford woman.

A 24-year-old Beacon Falls man who was involved in a  in Naugatuck Saturday night has died.

William J. Baer Jr. was pronounced dead Sunday at Waterbury Hospital, according to the hospital’s nursing supervisor.

Baer was the driver of a car that was traveling in the southbound lane on Route 8 just north of Exit 27 in Naugatuck when it was struck head-on by a van. The van’s driver, 35-year-old Edmundo Mendieta of New Haven, was driving the wrong way on the highway – he was headed northbound in the southbound lane.

Baer’s lone passenger, 22-year-old Sara Chmielewski of Stratford, was listed in critical condition at Saint Mary's Hospital as of Sunday afternoon.

Mendiata was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury and was listed in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon, according to nursing supervisor at that hospital.

Mendieta was operating a white 2003 Chevrolet van when it collided at 10 p.m. with a blue 2008 Honda Accord that Bear was driving.

A preliminary state police report did not indicate whether any of the three were wearing seatbelts.

No charges had been filed as of Sunday as the accident remains under investigation. A state police accident reconstruction team is expected to fully examine the details of the incident.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington will conduct an autopsy on Baer either Monday or Tuesday. 

OxfordCitizen April 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Why is it that every time one of these drunken morons drives the wrong way on a highway in the middle of the night it's always the unsuspecting person minding their own business that gets killed ?? The deceased family will be lucky if this guy had valid automotive insurance.
Paul Singley April 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM
It's a little premature to say the guy was drunk, though I don't doubt it's a good possibility.
BP April 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Paul! still teaching at NVCC?!
Paul Singley April 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Yes, Bob, I am. Hope you are well. Send me an email at paul.singley@patch.com. Thanks
Bonnie April 29, 2012 at 11:53 PM
My heart goes out to the families of the innocent ones involved in this horrible crash. I can't say horrible accident because getting on the highway going the wrong way is not an accident. I know it's not known if the wrong way driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs or perhaps both but what else would explain how the heck you get on the highway in the wrong direction. This is not another country where we drive on the opposite side of the road. It's horrible when anyone loses their life in anyway but it's really sad to read young people getting killed. Even tho I didn't know these people I will keep them in my thoughts, the family that lost their son, brother, nephew etc and my hopes go for the girl that was with him for a quick and full recovery.
Paul Singley April 30, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Agreed. Well said, Bonnie. So sad.
OxfordCitizen April 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Paul, understood but drunk or otherwise the fact is that they ended up on the wrong side of a divided two lane highway. Now one person is dead. Dead ! Their day wasn't ruined. They're DEAD ! So pardon me for not waiting for all the details as to the driver's circumstances. To the family of the deceased it won't matter if the driver was drunk, high on prescription drugs, or just confused....they still have a funeral to plan.
BF Resident April 30, 2012 at 12:15 PM
This accident touches all of us because it could have been any one of us traveling on Route 8 at 10:00 at night. I also suspect that the driver was either on drugs or intoxicated and probably has a suspended license and no insurance. The story is always the same, just different victims. So sorry for the families who are suffering.
Craig Zac April 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM
because all the other drunken idiots are also going the wrongway so the only ones left going the right way are the innocent folks.
Craig Zac April 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Yeah, i still cant see how someone who is from here, not drunk or otherwise impared, cannot figure out they are on the wrong side of the road, espcially the highway, youd have to almost make a 3 point turn just to get on the exit to get on the highway!!
Craig Zac April 30, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Remember folks... keep the White on the right and the yellow on left. if your going up a highway ramp and the white line is on the left, Follow these easy instructions so as to avoid a crash! Stop car Back down ramp till your back on the main road Park Car Get out of car Throw the keys into a rearby pond, lake, ocean or over grown field Call a cab Never drive again!
concerned April 30, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Is the guy from New Haven a legal citizen??
Robert Whelan May 01, 2012 at 11:44 AM
To the story writers.. Please stay on top of this, and to ANYONE who saw ANYTHING please contact the state police with information! TROOP I - Bethany 631 Amity Road Bethany, CT 06525 TELEPHONE: (800) 956-8818 (203) 393-4200
Heather July 23, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Please, please, can anyone provide an update about Sarah? She and her family are on my heart and I pray for them daily....

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