Paul and Joyce Stucki set out Saturday on a “romantic” drive to enjoy the fall foliage.

That drive ended in tragedy when Paul Stucki, 86, a former Waterville doctor, died in a head-on collision on U.S. Route 2 in Dixfield after his car crossed the centerline and struck a van carrying two Wisconsin women. Joyce Stucki, his wife, 79, was in critical condition Monday afternoon at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

“My father was taking my mother for a romantic drive leaf-peeping,” their son, David Stucki, said Monday.

He said his mother is going into surgery again Tuesday. “It’s touch-and-go,” said Stucki, of Oakland.

The Winslow residents often took day trips exploring Maine’s scenic beauty, Marilyn Hall, a close friend, said Monday.

“They had taken a trip to Bar Harbor earlier this summer, and they had gone to Boothbay,” she said.

“They were just a wonderful, wonderful couple,” Hall said. “It is such a tragedy, it really is.”

After Paul Stucki, an orthopedist, retired from practicing medicine, the couple split their time between Maine and Florida.

They lived with Hall one summer in Maine. She remembered that Paul loved to garden and play the piano.

“He was just a great guy. He was a great musician, a great gardener. He loved to play the piano,” said Jan Goddard, who attended the First Baptist Church in Waterville with the couple.

Dixfield police said Monday that they haven’t determined what caused Stucki’s car to cross the centerline, and the accident, which happened around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, is still under investigation.

Before colliding with the van, Stucki’s eastbound car grazed a Ford truck driven by Brad St. Pierre of Topsham.

St. Pierre told police that he saw Stucki’s car begin to cross into the westbound lane and St. Pierre pulled off the road to avoid a collision.

June Lauter was driving a van behind St. Pierre and couldn’t react quickly enough to avoid being struck, Dixfield police said Monday.

Lauter, 54, and her sister, Judith Lohr, 47, had to be extricated from the van. They suffered multiple fractures and were hospitalized with what police called non-life-threatening injuries.

Stucki was taken to Rumford Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Dixfield police said there were no witnesses besides St. Pierre, and no charges will be considered until the investigation is completed.

The Dixfield Police Department and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department are conducting an accident reconstruction.

Lauren Abbate can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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