Two Amherst residents were killed Saturday when their van collided with a tractor-trailer on Transit Road in Clarence.
The victims were identifed as Howard and Barbara Vahue, 75 and 68, respectively, who were pronounced dead at the scene.
The head-on crash – which knocked down a utility pole and forced the van into the front of a Transit Road business – occurred about 12:30 p.m. on Transit, between Casey and Muegel roads on the Amherst-Clarence border, state police in Clarence said.
The tractor-trailer was traveling south on Transit, when it swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed into the Honda Odyssey, investigators said.
“The tractor-trailer was driving south on Transit and for whatever reason veered into oncoming traffic and hit the Honda Odyssey pretty much head-on,” one investigator said.
The tractor-trailer continued to push the van, which knocked over a utility pole and crashed into the front of Spring Grove Animal Hospital at 6241 Transit, next to Ruzzine’s Rock Bottom Eatery, police said.
The investigator said there was nothing in the road that would cause the tractor-trailer to steer into oncoming traffic, but he didn’t want to speculate on what may have happened until the investigation was completed.
“We don’t think it was alcohol, but that’s still pending,” the investigator said.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was identified as Steven C. Reitz, 58, of Cato, in the Syracuse area, police said. A passenger also was traveling in the semi. Neither was injured.
At this point no charges have been lodged.
Police redirected traffic on Transit. The road was blocked off between Muegel and Casey for several hours Saturday while they conducted their investigation and cleaned up the scene.
Bystanders watched as the vehicles were towed away.
“How sad,” said one woman as she looked at the wreckage. “It’s devastating. They were probably going at a decent rate of speed. ... It’s a very busy stretch.”
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