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Driver remains in serious condition after fiery Redwood crash

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REDWOOD — The driver of a pickup truck involved in a fiery crash Friday evening on Route 37 remains in serious condition in a Syracuse hospital.

State police identified the driver of the pickup as Joseph D. Ayen, 23, of 9043 Route 58, Ogdensburg. His pickup truck was split in two and caught fire after striking an oncoming SUV at 6:39 p.m. Friday on Route 37, near Number 6 Road.

On Saturday, hospital officials said Mr. Ayen remained in serious condition at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse. He had been taken there by an Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.

The driver of the SUV, Damian J. Marotta, 44, Baldwin, Nassau County, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Trooper Michael S. Schwedler said Saturday. Mr. Marotta was taken by ambulance to Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, where his condition was not known Saturday night.

Trooper Schwedler said both vehicles were “crushed,” but it was the passenger sides of both vehicles that took the brunt of the impact and damage.

“I think it was fortunate that the vehicles were crushed on the passenger sides,” the trooper said.

The pickup was headed north when it veered into the opposite lane and struck the southbound SUV, Trooper Schwedler said. A 30-foot-tall evergreen near the road at 45513 Route 37 also caught fire. It took firefighters just a few minutes to extinguish the fire.

A section of Route 37 was closed for 2 hours while firefighters cleared the scene.

Trooper Schwedler said a man who was driving on Route 37 at the time of the accident was charged with driving while intoxicated. Another trooper noticed that Mark J. Weidner, 22, of 134 Elm St., Watertown, appeared to be intoxicated, Mr. Schwedler said. Mr. Weidner was charged with DWI and unlawful possession of marijuana.

He did not know the other drivers, Trooper Schwedler said.

Trooper Schwedler also said state police have not been able to confirm whether Mr. Ayen had just left a tavern about a mile from the accident scene. They are investigating a report that the pickup was seen in the tavern’s parking lot.

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