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Inexplicable tragedy strikes family Why their vehicle veered across line may never be known, sheriff says

Peter and Connie Boyce were driving home from Sunday breakfast with their two young sons to watch the Buffalo Bills on television.

This much, their family knows.

What caused the couple's minivan to move into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer, no one knows.

That answer may have died with the family of four from Batavia.

"We'll probably never know," Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy John Duyssen said Monday.

"For some unknown reason, that van just crossed right over and hit that truck head-on," Duyssen said.

This wasn't the first time tragedy has struck the Boyce family.

Sunday's horrific collision on Route 63 in the Town of Bethany came 10 years after Peter Boyce's younger brother was killed in a car crash in nearby Oakfield.

"We moved to Florida after that but returned about two years ago to live here, to be closer to Peter and his family," Donna Boyce, Peter's stepmother, told the the Batavia Daily News.

Now, they're grieving the loss of four more family members.

Peter, 35, was an avid hunter and loved the Bills.

Connie, 33, was a caring nutrition educator.

Alexander, 9, was a third-grader at John Kennedy School in Batavia.

Bradley, 5, had just started kindergarten there.

The Boyces had met Connie's parents, Frank and Linda Shea, in Groveland, Livingston County, Sunday morning for breakfast, Frank Shea told The Buffalo News in a brief phone interview Monday.

They were returning to their East Main Street home in Batavia so that Alexander could get there in time to watch the Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins game, his grandfather said. The boy was a big Bills fan and planned to watch the game wearing a team jersey, Frank Shea said.

The Boyce family was traveling north in a Chevrolet minivan just after 11 a.m.

The minivan had just finished navigating a curve and was on a straight patch of road when the vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

"It's got to be one of the worst [accidents] I've been to," Duyssen said.

All that was left at the scene Monday were a couple dozen orange barrels blocking the damaged guardrail that the tractor-trailer swerved into during the crash.

No charges have been placed against the truck driver, Brian J. Hack, 47, of Welland, Ont.

"That poor truck driver," Duyssen said. "He did everything he could to get out of the way. He swerved and went to the right as quickly as he could."

Funeral arrangements for the Boyce family were incomplete late Monday, but more details about the family emerged.

Scott Way, Peter's teenage cousin, stood outside the family home on East Main Street and talked about the Boyce family.

Peter and Connie had been married for 12 years.

Peter worked at Cargill, and Connie was a nutrition educator at Cornell Cooperative Extention of Genesee County.

"You had to earn Peter's respect if you wanted to be on his good side," Way said. "You had to show him he could trust you."

"Connie was very outgoing, easy to get along with. She always kept tabs on me," Way said. "They welcomed me into their house, they bought things for me. They treated me like I was their kid . . .

"They both loved their kids very much," Way added. "In my eyes, they were my little brothers."

Alex liked to go hunting with his dad, and both the Boyce boys had taken an interest in pro wrestling.

A statement of sympathy was posted on their elementary school's Web site Monday.

The school was closed Monday for the Veterans Day holiday. The district promised to have counselors available for pupils and staff when classes resume today.

"We are extremely heartbroken by the loss of these two wonderful young men. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family," the statement reads in part.

The Boyce family lost Peter's younger brother, Michael, in a car crash on April 14, 1997.

Michael A. Boyce, who was 21, was fatally injured when his truck slid off Fisher Road, struck a tree and he was thrown into the water in a swamp near Oak Orchard Creek, Oakfield.

Genesee Correspondent Bill Brown contributed to this report.

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