Pianist killed in another wrong way crash on Route 490

Posted at: 12/07/2013 9:05 AM
Updated at: 12/07/2013 11:22 PM
By: Chalonda Roberts

For the second time in two weeks, investigators say a crash involving a wrong way driver on Route 490 has turned deadly.

The latest crash happened overnight near exit 6 in Gates. Deputies say around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, they received a call for a driver traveling westbound on Route 490 in the eastbound lane near Route 531.

Shortly after that call, that vehicle, driven by 37-year-old Thomas Rome, of Kirkwood, hit a SUV near exit 6. The impact of the crash sent both the SUV and the car into a spin. The SUV was then hit by a third vehicle, traveling the correct direction, behind the SUV.

Investigators say inside the SUV was 69-year-old Tatiana Tchekina, the driver, and her husband 71-year-old Oleh Krysa. Deputies say Tchekina was pronounced dead at the scene and Krysa was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. Rome was alone in his car and deputies say he smelled of alcohol. He suffered a broken leg and a severe arm injury. He was also taken to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The crash is still under investigation and charges are pending at this time.

This is the second such incident in two weeks on Route 490. In the other crash, troopers say 30-year-old Robert Rector, of Fairport, was driving drunk, and also headed in the wrong direction on Route 490 near the Ames Street when he hit a car driven by 19-year-old Khadijah McKenzie. McKenzie was killed in the crash and Rector was charged with DWI and manslaughter. Rector has plead not guilty to those charges.

News10NBC has learned that Tchekina was an accomplished pianist and part time professor at the Eastman School of Music. The school has issued the following statement:

"The entire Eastman community is shocked and deeply saddened to have learned about the accident that took the life of Tatiana Tchekina. Tatiana was an assistant professor of piano accompanying and wife to violin faculty member Oleh Krysa. Professor Krysa was also involved in the accident, and is recovering.

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 world-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."

This couple is known around the world. Tchekina recorded 20 CD's with her husband and the two played together from coast to coast. Tchekina studied at the Moscow and Kiev conservatories. Her husband Oleh Krysa taught at those conservatories. It's a talent and fame they shared with everyone who knew them, and Saturday night there is shock and disbelief Tchekina is gone.

"Oleh called me from the hospital and I was just crushed. I couldn't believe it. We were just having breakfast. I still can't believe she's gone,” said Dave Edwards, neighbor.

Dave Edwards has lived next door to Tchekina and Krysa for 15 years. He considered the couple not only to be neighbors, but friends.

“She was a marvelous, wonderfully warm person, so talented and so much fun to be with and she always opened her home to so many people. I can't tell you the number of times we were there having wonderful gatherings with her and other friends,” said Edwards.

Tchekina was a world renowned pianist. Her husband is an accomplished violinist. They both came to Rochester more than 20 years ago from Russia to teach at the Eastman School of Music.

“I knew Tatiana largely through her work with her husband Oleh Krysa and his many students his many wonderful violin students. I have heard Tatiana play dozens and dozens and dozens of times,” said Edwards.

Her colleague and friend of more than 20 years said Tchekina was loved by her students.

“She was, in fact, incredibly nurturing and very demanding, and yet also had this wicked since of humor and loved to tell stories, which were wonderfully engaging,” said James VanDemark, colleague at the Eastman School of Music.

Friends described the couple as talented, energetic and loving.

The real treat in all of this is knowing the Tatiana and Oleh were the most devoted couple in addition to the music. They were like two teenagers in love,” said VanDemark.

Edwards told News10NBC Tchekina and Krysa were traveling back from Buffalo when the crash happened.

Some students at the Eastman School of Music who knew Tchekina will hold a closed vigil on Monday night.