Beacon Falls Man, 24, Dies Following Head On Crash

The accident happened on Route 8 in Naugatuck when a wrong-way driver hit a car carrying a 24-year-old Beacon Falls man and a 22-year-old Stratford woman.

A 24-year-old Beacon Falls man who was involved in a  in Naugatuck Saturday night has died.

William J. Baer Jr. was pronounced dead Sunday at Waterbury Hospital, according to the hospital’s nursing supervisor.

Baer was the driver of a car that was traveling in the southbound lane of Route 8 just north of Exit 27 in Naugatuck when it was struck head-on by a van. Police said the van’s driver, 35-year-old Edmundo Mendieta of New Haven, was driving the wrong way on the highway – he was headed northbound in the southbound lane.

Baer’s lone passenger, 22-year-old Sara Chmielewski of Stratford, was listed in critical condition at Waterbury Hospital as of Sunday afternoon.

Mendieta was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury and was listed in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon, according to nursing supervisor at that hospital.

Mendieta was operating a white 2003 Chevrolet van when it collided at 10 p.m. with a blue 2008 Honda Accord that Baer was driving.

A preliminary state police report did not indicate whether any of the three were wearing seatbelts.

No charges had been filed as of Sunday as the accident remains under investigation. A state police accident reconstruction team is expected to fully examine the details of the incident.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington will conduct an autopsy on Baer either Monday or Tuesday. 

Aud April 29, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Entrance Ramps need Wrong Ways Spikes installed to stop these wrong way way drivers from killing innocent people. It's a real problem lately. My condolences to this poor kid's family and loved ones.
ed April 29, 2012 at 09:51 PM
I guarantee this is a case of DWI... As it is the case, the drunk does not die - it is always the innocent victim. Most likely no insurance, and a illegal alien. Sad, very sad...
cheryl April 29, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I agree. He was following me on New Haven road and ran the red light at high street and rt. 63. I had to pull over because he came up so close on me swerving. I tried to get his plate number but was going too fast for me.
BJ Forlenzo April 29, 2012 at 10:20 PM
To the Baer family - my heart breaks for you all. As the mom of a 24 year-old young man, this hits very close to home and the fears I have for my son being out at night. I know - nighttime has nothing to do with it - but it is when my fears are greatest due to drunk drivers. I always tell him - I don't worry about your driving - but the others that are on the road with you. The local roads and highways all over the US have gotten so deadly with speeding and drunk drivers. What is it we can do about this? This is insanity! Another CT. resident was also killed by a wrong-way driver on Rt. 2. this weekend. Ron DeRosa - please do a follow-up on this for us - right up to the court date for the murderer.
anabella maia April 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM
if these comments are all factual, call the police. They are investigating and need all the help in pulling this together as to what happened..the hell with the Patch and FB for comments, call the police if you know something.
Laura April 30, 2012 at 12:03 AM
For those who were effected by Mendieta's driving or were witnesses PLEASE contact the police to help their investigation. People like this should not be allowed to be on the road. Help stop them.
SILENT WOLF April 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Anabella take it easy !, don't get sore at the patch and whatever the FB is. Everyone is showing respect and sympathy. Although justice can never be served , my prayers are with the families at this time .
CXX April 30, 2012 at 01:09 AM
As William's cousin, I ask anyone who witnessed Mendieta's driving/behavior/ANYTHING last night to please contact the State Police Bethany Barracks to tell them your story. I realize this will take a few minutes of your time, however, your help will be enormously appreciated by the entire family. This is a huge loss for our small family, and we will appreciate, more than you can imagine, your help. Thank you.
FFDP April 30, 2012 at 01:16 AM
does anyone have info on sara please. Last update on wtnh was critical condition, but that could mean so many thingsd. Any info would really be helpful to her close friends thank you
smith smith April 30, 2012 at 01:21 AM
This really hits home... I was driving my 4 year old home from her first dance recital right around this time on route 8... I can't even imagine! My heart goes out to the family.
DDamico April 30, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Sadly, Sara was reported that she had not made it to the hospital. It was posted on the preliminary report this morning as some one had commented this. R.I.P. Dear cousin, and Sara.
Chris Yancik April 30, 2012 at 03:38 AM
There was a false initial report that both occupants of the Honda had passed away at the scene. Neither actually had at that point. Sadly, Mr. Baer did not survive. Sara is still alive as of 11:35 PM, Sunday. All thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of this unimaginable and senseless tragedy. The wrong way driver needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone who witnessed the driver at any point Sunday night has a responsibility to contact the police and make an official statement.
Jennifer Perreault April 30, 2012 at 04:35 AM
My family and I were dring down route 8 and saw the after math of this terrible accident. This really hurts my heart. We are praying for these innocent young victims and the family's of all who were involved! We are really sorry for your loss. And we pray that you find justice!!!
Heather Doty April 30, 2012 at 06:11 AM
If u know something report it. Dont just post it up here its no good to the police in here
Momma April 30, 2012 at 01:16 PM
He must have been on something. Minutes before he was driving erratic and was involved in a hit an run on Carroll Court.
Meliss April 30, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I agree with BJ's sentiment. My heart definitely aches for the family and friends of these two young people and the lives of those families will never be the same. As a mother of two young men, I can only imagine your pain. My sincere prayers and thoughts are with you. I pray for the family of William and I most hopefully pray for Sara's recovery from her bodily injuries. I'm sure the emotional injuries will be with her a lifetime.
C.Stephens April 30, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I seen the same van pulled over across from Nardelli's. He pulled out behind me and was acting weird. He was heading toward Rubber Ave a little after 9:30pm. He was tailgating me, then he eased up and was driving very slow. I got up to Friendly's and was nervous that he was still behind me. He turned left toward 63 New Haven Rd. I wish I had his plate and called the police. My prayers to the families of these young vicitms.
CXX April 30, 2012 at 02:24 PM
C. Stephens: Can you please take a few minutes to call the State Police Bethany Barracks to tell them what you witnessed? Our families would greatly appreciate your time. Thanks in advance.
CXX April 30, 2012 at 07:30 PM
The following update came from Ronald DeRosa of Naugatuck Patch, via his Facebook page. "Just to update everyone: Sara Chmielewski is still listed in critical condition at St. Mary's Hospital following the tragic head on collision on Saturday, according to hospital spokesman Jennifer Clement. We are following the story today and will be posting more information later as we obtain it. Also, to anyone who knows the Baer family, we offer our sincere condolences. I cannot imagine how hard this must be for them. - RD, editor (ronald.derosa@patch.com)" https://www.facebook.com/NaugatuckPatch
Ronald DeRosa (Editor) April 30, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Hi CXX, Can you please send me an email? I would like to speak to you further about William. I'm looking to do a story on who he was and I was hoping to speak to some family members and friends. I can be reached at ronald.derosa@patch.com or by phone at 203-605-3213. - RD, editor
Ronald DeRosa (Editor) April 30, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Just to be clear, Sara is still listed in critical condition at St. Mary's Hospital. This is the most recent status report we have received. - RD, editor
Jenny May 01, 2012 at 01:41 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both the young man & woman involved in this horrific accident. Nothing I say can make you all feel better and I am truly sorry for that. I have been in your similar shoes I lost my sister to a motor vehicle accident that was in no shape or form her fault and day in & out I relive it and wonder why still 6 yes later. I'm truly sorry for your lose and pray for Sara to have a healthy recovery. I wish you all the best and just know even strangers are praying fornu all. Xoxoxo. May we all pray god bless
Jen May 02, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Please call the police with any information regarding the driver of the van. They are doing a full investigation abd you will really help the family. Thank you.
Maria Santos May 03, 2012 at 08:33 PM
my heart goes to the family my brother belarmino santos died last year april 29 by a drunk driver driving the wrong way on route 8 between exit 22 & 23 so i know that is a disaster my deepest sympathy maria santos from bridgeport <3
Kissfan73 May 18, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Can we have an update on the condition of Sara Chmielewski, the girl that was in the car. Is she still in the hospital? How is she doing?
Stephanie February 13, 2013 at 09:53 PM
There is a follow up article out now, in the case you haven't seen it.
Sara C. January 30, 2014 at 02:07 PM
My thoughts and prayers are with the Baer family now and always. I love you all very much! Rest in piece to my boyfriend BJ Baer.</3


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