Three people, including a former first selectman, died in a serious crash on Route 53 at the Danbury/Bethel town line late Tuesday morning, according to police.
The crash happened around 11:45 a.m. when a Honda Accord traveling northbound on Route 53/South Street crossed the double yellow line and struck a Buick Lucerne driving southbound, police said.
The driver of the Honda, Edward Kish of Brookfield, 45, died of his injuries. Witnesses told police Kish was slumped over the wheel prior to the crash.
A husband and wife traveling in the Buick, 78- and 77-year-old Jane and William Shannon, respectively, were also killed. William Shannon was a former first selectman in Bethel.
"I was just speechless," said current Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. "You could not know two nicer, more generous people, two people who have contributed more to the community, to this town, to the church. It is just a terrible, terrible loss for us."
Another passenger, Roy Bass, 59, was treated and released from Danbury Hospital, police said.
Witnesses said a box truck narrowly avoided the crash.
"The front ends of the cars, they were all crushed in, and the three people were all unconscious," said Tony Carvalho of Danbury, who lives nearby. He heard the crash, ran to the scene and called 911.
"I tried to talk to them," Carvalho said. "None of them were responding."
He said the cars appeared to have collided head on.
Route 53 was closed for several hours and reopened around 2:30 p.m. Traffic was detoured from Route 53 onto Great Pasture Road in Danbury and from Route 53 onto Mansfield Street in Bethel.
Police are investigating to determine the cause of the crash.
Witnesses are urged to contact Danbury Police Traffic Division Sgt. Rory DeRocco or Officer Lance Brevard at 203-797-2157 or 203-797-2156.