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Trucker charged in I-70 crash that killed 2 people

| Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 12:42 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Emergency crews and tow trucks work to clear an accident from Interstate 70 on Saturday afternoon, November 24, 2012. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

State police charged the driver of a tractor-trailer after it drove across a grassy median on Interstate 70 in Washington County on Saturday, hit two cars traveling in the opposite direction and crushed a Maryland woman and her adult daughter to death. Four other people were injured.

The crash in South Strabane caused huge traffic backups as vehicles crept along detours that took more than an hour.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco identified the victims as Karen Babka, 57, and Kaitlin Babka, 21, both of Hughesville, Md.

Karen Babka was driving the Dodge Charger in which daughter Kaitlin Babka was a passenger, Warco said. He ruled their deaths as accidental. State police said two other people suffered serious injuries, and two people suffered moderate injuries. Two of the injured were children.

State police charged Yevgeniy Bugreyev, 44, of West Sacramento, Calif., with two counts of homicide by vehicle. He was arraigned Saturday afternoon in Washington before District Judge Robert Redlinger, who set his bond at $1 million pending a preliminary hearing.

Bugreyev had no comment after the arraignment. He was taken to the Washington County Jail.

The crash happened shortly before 11:30 a.m. Saturday just west of the Lakeview Drive overpass. It closed the eastbound lanes for several hours. Although a light snow fell on the area Saturday, authorities said it was not a factor in the accident.

Bugreyev provided a blood sample and has been cooperating with authorities, police said.

State police said the tractor-trailer driver was traveling west on I-70 and, for an unknown reason, crossed the grassy median and went into the eastbound lanes, crushing the Dodge Charger and killing two people.

A Chevy Trailblazer then drove into the roof of the overturned trailer.

All four SUV occupants, including two children, were injured. Police did not name the children. Brandy Lynn Gray, 33, of Scenery Hill and one of the child passengers were injured seriously, police said. Driver Darlene Gray, 59, of Washington and the other child sustained moderate injuries.

The rig and trailer were heavily damaged. It was hauling rock salt, state police said. Some of its cargo, packaged in large bags, landed outside the trailer.

The westbound lanes of I-70 reopened about 3:30 p.m. The eastbound lanes remained closed while police investigated the crash.

Because the accident occurred near the I-70 interchange with Interstate 79, traffic was diverted at Exit 21 onto I-79, with lengthy backups of several miles reported on southbound I-79, near the merge point with I-70.

A Hazmat crew responded as fuel leaked at the scene, according to police.

Staff writers Tory N. Parrish and Bill Vidonic contributed to this report. Tim Puko and Adam Smeltz are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Puko can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com. Smeltz can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.

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