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Teacher killed in wrong way crash on 490

Gates, N.Y. - A woman was killed in a violent crash when her vehicle was struck head on by a wrong way driver on Interstate 490 East Saturday morning.

An assistant professor at the Eastman School of Music, Tatiana Tchekina, 69, of Rochester, died at the scene. She is the second person to be killed by a wrong way driver on I-490 in two weeks.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a car accident on I-490 East in Gates around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Jeffery Nyman said he woke up to the sound of screeching tires just before the crash. "I could see cars coming down 490 and all of the sudden hitting their brake lights real quick," Nyman said, "looked like maybe they were swerving around something back behind us here."

Corporal John Helfer of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department said a Prius drove west in the eastbound lanes, but it's unclear where the driver pulled onto the interstate. Near the Route 204 exit, investigators said the Prius hit the SUV head-on. The collision sent both vehicles into a spin and a pickup truck traveling behind Tchekina clipped the back of the car.

Tchekina, who was behind the wheel, died at the scene. Her husband, 71-year-old Oleh Krysa, was in the passenger seat. He suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon.

Police said the driver of the Prius, Thomas Rome, 37, of Kirkwood, N.Y., was found unconscious at the scene and smelled of alcohol. Rome was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital with a possible broken leg and severe injury to his left arm.

"I can't even imagine how someone could go the wrong way on the expressway," said Nyman. "Obviously it's all clearly marked."

According to the sheriff's office, the crash is still under investigation and charges are pending.

This is the second time in two weeks that a wrong way driver has caused a deadly crash.

"You got to almost start thinking now what 'would I do if I was in that situation," said Nyman. "'If I saw someone coming the wrong way, what would or could I do to protect me or my family.'"

At Tchekina's home in Rochester, family and friends said the 69-year-old was a funny and talented woman who loved her daughter dearly.

Tchekina was an assistant professor of piano accompanying at the Eastman School of Music. Krysa, her husband, is also a professor there.

Here is part of the statement from the school's dean, Jamal Rossi:

"Professor Tchekina was a valued member of our faculty who influenced the lives of the many students with whom she collaborated on performances and competitions. As a word-class musician, she had an international career both as a solo pianist and in collaboration with Professor Krysa. Our thoughts are with Oleh and their family and friends at this very difficult time."

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