SUFFERN, N.Y., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- New York State troopers responding to a report of a wrong-way driver Tuesday found an off-duty police officer and another man dead in a head-on collision.
The crash occurred at about 7 a.m. on the New York State Thruway, Interstate 87, in Suffern, N.Y., just north of the New Jersey state line. Investigators said that Richard Christopher, 32, an officer with the New York Police Department, was driving south on the highway's northbound lanes.
Troopers were already on the way to the scene at the time, responding to a call from another driver who reported a blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck speeding south on the wrong side of the highway. Investigators said that Christopher struck a Honda CRV driven by James DeVito, 59.
Both men were alone in their vehicles and both died. The collision left debris scattered on the highway.
"When my unit arrived, they were DOA. They were still inside the car," a rescue worker told the New York Post. "It was a horrific scene."
The crash occurred just as the morning rush hour was getting underway causing major backups.
Police said they did not know why Christopher was on the wrong side of the highway. The thruway runs from the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson north through an area where many New York City police officers live.
Christopher was assigned to a police precinct in The Bronx.