About 20 minutes before a man driving the wrong way on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Ludlow collided with another driver Friday night, fatally injuring both, State Police received calls reporting a wrong-way driver in the area, police said.
Clarence Lux, 84, of New Britain, Conn., was driving east on the westbound lane and collided with Robert Magee, 28, of West Bridgewater, State Police said in a statement.
Both drivers were taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where they were pronounced dead.
State Police sent two cruisers to find the wrong-way driver, but did not locate Lux before the crash, said Trooper Todd Nolan, a State Police spokesman.
“It’s not uncommon to get calls for wrong-way drivers on highways,” Nolan said. “A lot of times people have the moment of clarity where they realize, ‘oh my God, I’m driving the wrong way,’ and find a way off the road.”
Ludlow Fire Captain John Moll, who responded to the crash, said it occurred on a straight stretch of the highway where drivers tend to travel at high speeds.
“It was a high-speed, head-on crash, so there was substantial damage,” he said. “Both drivers had to be extricated using the Jaws of Life.”
Because of the relatively long period of time between the first call and the crash, Nolan said State Police believe Lux may have pulled over onto the center divider for a while, then drove onto the wrong road.
“Around that time frame, that road is pretty busy. We can only speculate that he did pull over,” he said. “We just don’t know.”
Two other cars were involved in the accident, but their occupants were not injured and the cars did not sustain serious damage, Nolan said.
Officials from Troop E of the Massachusetts State Police, the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section are investigating. Along with the Ludlow Fire Department, Ludlow EMS, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation assisted State Police at the scene of the crash.