Paul and Joyce Stucki, of Winslow, set out Saturday on a “romantic” drive to look at 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 after his car crossed the center line in Dixfield and struck a van carrying two Wisconsin women. Joyce Stucki, 79, his wife, was in critical condition at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston Monday afternoon.

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

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

Trips spent driving around exploring Maine’s scenic beauty were not uncommon for the couple, Marilyn Hall, a close friend they had spent summers with, said Monday. She said they took daytrips often.

“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, a Waterville orthopedist, retired from practicing medicine, the couple split their time between Maine and Florida.

They lived with Hall at her home in Oakland for two summers, and she remembers Paul loving to garden and play the piano.

Jan Goddard, who attended the First Baptist Church in Waterville with the Stuckis, said Paul Stucki was multi-talented.

“He was just a great guy. He was a great musician, a great gardener,” she said. “He loved to play the piano.”

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

Before colliding with the van, Stucki’s eastbound car grazed a Ford truck operated 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 over and off the road to avoid a collision.

June Lauter, who was driving the van the Stucki car hit, was traveling 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, both of Wisconsin, suffered multiple fractures and were taken to the hospital. Police said their injuries were not considered critical.

The operators of both vehicles had to be extricated.

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

Dixfield police said that there were no witnesses aside from 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 investigation.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

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Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate