Events leading up to deadly I-95 crash still a mystery

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Mystic - The crash that killed two people on Interstate 95 northbound Thursday evening has left a few unanswered questions in its aftermath.

Why was Lance Lewis, 36, of Batavia, N.Y., driving his Honda CRV southbound in the northbound lane?

Which ramp did Lewis use to access the highway?

Where was he coming from?

As they continue to investigate the circumstances of the three-car crash, state police are trying to retrace Lewis' steps to find the answers to these and other questions.

State police spokeswoman Kelly Grant said police will contact Lewis' family to try to determine what he was doing in Connecticut and where he was before getting into his car and driving the wrong way on I-95.

Attempts to reach someone Friday at Lewis' last-known address were unsuccessful.

Rebecca Kingsley, who works in Westerly, said she was driving in the left travel lane on I-95 north Thursday evening when she noticed several vehicles ahead of her moving over to the right lane.

Kingsley said she then saw headlights coming toward her as she crested an incline. The car was moving fast, going "perfectly straight, staying in the same lane."

"It wasn't swerving or anything," she said.

Kingsley said she quickly steered to the right, and the wrong-way car sped past her.

"It seemed like the driver knew what he was doing," she said. "He was going highway speed like he was intent on being in the fast lane."

State police said emergency dispatchers at Troop E in Montville took several calls about a vehicle headed the wrong way on I-95 north between Exits 90 and 91 shortly before the accident occurred at 7:06 p.m. Police were on the scene three minutes later.

Lewis' Honda collided with a Lexus driven by Terrence Garbuzinski, 46, of North Attleboro, Mass., who was driving northbound. Both men were declared dead at the scene, which was littered with debris and smoke.

Garbuzinski worked as a vice president at Sonalysts in Waterford. It is not known if he was heading home from work when the accident occurred. No one answered calls seeking comment at Sonalysts on Friday, but one employee, who asked not to be named, said the "mood was grim."

Police said Veronica Crowley, 55, of Stonington was driving her Nissan Sentra behind Garbuzinski when the collision occurred. Crowley's car then struck Garbuzinski's vehicle. After the crash, part of one of the Lexus doors lay on the hood of Crowley's Sentra. Lewis' car briefly caught fire.

Police said Crowley was unable to offer an account of the incident except to say that she saw the two cars collide and "go up in the air."

Crowley was treated at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and released.

Grant, the state police spokeswoman, said there was no indication people were calling 911 to report the wrong-way driver from exits north of Exit 91. That could mean Lewis' car did not access the highway at Exit 92 or any exit farther north. On either side of the northbound off-ramp of Exit 91, a driver would have to pass "Do not enter" signs if traveling the wrong way.

The stretch of highway between Exits 90 and 91 is 2.9 miles. Heading northbound from Exit 90, the highway is three lanes wide for about 1,000 feet, at which point it merges into two lanes. Both the northbound and southbound lanes are divided by metal-and-wire guardrails and, in some areas, by trees and rock formations.

The highway was closed for about five hours Thursday night as the state police Collision Accident Reconstruction Squad tried to determine the events that led to the crash.

State police said the investigation will include, but is not limited to, autopsies and toxicology reports, interviews and the often-necessary reinterviews of witnesses. The process could take as many as six or seven months to complete, police said.

i.larraneta@theday.com

Day staff writer Chuck Potter contributed to this report.

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