WATERBURY — A Naugatuck man was one of two men killed Tuesday after the pickup truck he was driving crossed into opposing traffic on Watertown Avenue on and slammed into a school bus.
Police identified the men killed as Jeremy Rucker, 24, of Naugatuck, and 23-year-old Michael Maldonado of Waterbury.
Rucker was driving a Dodge Dakota south on the road at about 4 p.m. when the pickup crossed the double-yellow line and hit a school bus that was headed in the opposite direction.
The truck’s cab — primarily around the passenger side where Maldonado was seated — was crushed in the violent impact, while the front of the bus bowed inward. The bus driver, a woman who wasn’t identified by police, survived the accident with minor injuries.
The violent collision occurred on a relatively straight stretch of road that runs parallel to the southbound lanes of Route 8. Acting Deputy Police Chief Christopher Corbett said investigators don’t yet know why the truck crossed the center line.
The bus, owned by Durham School Services, wasn’t carrying students at the time of the crash as it had finished dropping them off for the day.
Autopsies show Rucker and Maldonado died of blunt force trauma, but additional tests are needed to determine if drugs or alcohol were in their bodies at the time of the crash.
With the exception of the traumatic injuries, there were no other medical issues discovered during the autopsies, police said.
There also was nothing found in the truck, such as liquor bottles or paraphernalia, that would indicate drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash, Corbett said.
Due to the extensive damage to the truck, police said it’s unclear if the men were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash or if airbags deployed.
An important part of the police investigation will be to determine where the truck had come from and where it was headed.
People with information about the accident can call detectives at (203) 574-6941.