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Fatal Accident Investigation Could Take Weeks

Multiple factors need to be examined in the Route 8 collision in Naugatuck before the investigation finishes, state police said.

A police investigation into a fatal collision that occurred on Route 8 Saturday night likely will take several weeks.

A state police accident reconstruction team continues to look into why a 35-year-old New Haven man, Edmundo Mendieta, drove the wrong way in the southbound lane of the state highway before crashing head-on with 24-year-old William Baer Jr. around 10 p.m. on Saturday, state police said.

Baer, a Beacon Falls resident, . A lone passenger in his car, Sara Chmielewski, 22, of Stratford, is still listed in critical condition at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, said hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Clement.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman, said the investigation will take a while because of the severity of the accident.

"There are a lot of factors that need to be examined," he said.

Mendieta was driving a white 2003 minivan when he crashed into Baer’s 2008 Honda Civic. As of Monday, he was listed in stable and good at Waterbury Hospital, Clement said.

Mendieta had not been charged in connection with the crash as of Monday.

Vance declined to comment on specifics of the accident or whether Mendiata will face charges. Vance said several potential contributing factors will be looked into during the course of the police probe.

“Was there speed involved, was there alcohol involved…. That’s part of the investigation we’ll hopefully be able to answer,” he said.

Anyone with information related to the accident should contact State Police Barracks Troop I in Bethany at 203-393-4200.

Some Naugatuck Patch readers have commented both on this website, and on the Naugatuck Patch Facebook page, claiming they witnessed the accident and have since reported their accounts to the police. Here are a few of them:

" saw him get onto the off ramp and called 911 because we honked our horn and tried to warn him or make him aware of his surroundings. And even if the driver was an out-of-towner and got confused, the first car he saw was (I think) a jeep getting off the exit and I figured he'd stop once he saw that. But the van never touched his breaks, he went around the jeep and kept going!!!" -

" following me all over the road on new haven road. I pulled over because he came right up to the back of my car. I was afraid. Tried to get his plate number but he was all over the road." -

"I saw the across from Nardelli's. He pulled out behind me and was acting weird. He was heading toward Rubber Ave a little after 9:30 p.m. He was tailgating me, then he eased up and was driving very slow. I got up to Friendly's and was nervous that he was still behind me. He turned left toward 63 New Haven Road. I wish I had his plate and called the police. My prayers to the families of these young victims." -

Fr May 01, 2012 at 11:42 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to the two families of the innocent victims. With all the comments from people who saw the van driver acting strange and travelling the wrong way, I know things can (and possibly did) happen in an instant, but with everyone having a cell phone, a quick call to 911 can make a great difference. Err on the side of "hoping to prevent a tragedy" and always call the police.

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