NAUGATUCK — Police arrested a 71-year-old borough man June 12 in connection with a fatal crash on Gunntown Road in February.
Police charged 71-year-old Alexander Oneschuk with negligent homicide in connection with the Feb. 27 crash after concluding that his erratic driving caused the collision.
No drugs or alcohol were found in Oneschuk’s blood, but traces of heroin and methadone were found during an autopsy of Daniel Lucas, the 43-year-old man who was killed in the head-on collision, according to investigative documents.
Oneschuk was driving a Jeep Liberty when he crossed a double-yellow line on a curve in the road and crashed head-on into a Honda Civic near the intersection with Towantic Hill Road.
Lucas, the driver of the Civic, died at the scene, police said. Lucas lived nearby at 38 Towantic Hill Road in Oxford.
Lucas’ legs were trapped by the damage to the car and he didn’t appear to be breathing when police arrived. Naugatuck police tried to revive Lucas, but he had suffered serious chest, head and leg trauma.
Oneschuk, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, later told police he was looking straight ahead while driving when he suddenly collided with something. Police found that Oneschuk’s SUV wasn’t registered or insured.
“I was looking at the bridge abutment and not looking at the road but I sensed a car was approaching from the opposite direction,” he later told police.
But Oneschuk was recorded on an officer’s body camera after the crash, according to police.
“I was coming down, then I looked up, and we collided,” he said on the recording, according to police.
Oneschuk gave differing versions of the hours before the crash, saying he had stopped at an Olive Garden in Waterbury for a lunch of shrimp, bread sticks and salad, but did not drink any alcohol, while in another he said he had eaten at Friendly’s in Naugatuck before the crash. He also told police he was driving a blue Buick at the time, when in fact he was actually driving a green Jeep.
A witness later told police Oneschuk was known for erratic driving in the area and would drift into oncoming traffic before correcting the path of his vehicle. His SUV was seen with fresh damage on it and he was known to sit in his driveway, drinking small bottles of alcohol before throwing them out the window, the witness told police.
As part of their investigation, police detailed six traffic violations Oneschuk was issued since 2013, including a citation issued in connection with a rollover crash in 2015 and a failure to maintain his lane in 2016.
The doctor conducting the autopsy on Lucas concluded he may have taken heroin within a day of his death and had “therapeutic” levels of methadone in his system. He couldn’t confirm if those drugs would have caused impairment in Lucas at the time, according to police.
Oneschuk was held on a $10,000 bond following his arraignment in Waterbury Superior Court on June 13. He’s due back in court later this year.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the original post.