Updated 07/09/2012 04:30 PM
Driver traveled wrong way for miles before crash
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GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — "Shortly after midnight, we got a few calls of a car heading in the wrong direction on the 190."
Sergeant Brian Guise of New York State Police Troop T said that car was driven by 87-year-old Richard Hildebrand of Kenmore.
Investigators said Hildebrand was heading north in the southbound lane before he struck a Toyota Camry, carrying four passengers on Grand Island.
"We have no idea where he was headed to, coming from, prior to the accident," Guise said.
State Police believe Hildebrand entered the thruway at the Ontario Street exit, traveling eight miles over the Grand Island Bridge before the accident that instantly killed three.
"If you go up the ramp the wrong way and there's no one coming at you, they would think it's just a normal ramp," Guise said.
Troopers said they received several calls during Hildebrand's drive along the 190 and were already en route to stop him before he struck the car carrying four men of Bangladeshi-descent visiting the area from Michigan almost head on.
The driver of the other vehicle and Hildebrand were both taken to ECMC where they're listed in critical condition.
Hildebrand’s friend, Stephen Domrose, said he was shocked by the news.
"He's a man who would always offer to do anything for anybody whenever he could, so just a very nice person," he said.
Troopers said they're unsure of what prompted to Hildebrand to drive the wrong way but said alcohol was not a factor.
They're still investigating the cause and whether or not any charges will be filed.