Mary DePaolo's sudden death in a two-vehicle crash will leave a big gap in the family, a brother-in-law said Tuesday.

DePaolo, 57, of Franklin, died after her Jeep drifted into the oncoming lane Monday night and collided with another vehicle, Delaware deputies said, and the investigation continues.

Roger Seward, of Wells Bridge, said his wife, Linda, was close to her sister, DePaolo, and they enjoyed shopping and visiting.

DePaolo was an outgoing person who enjoyed her work, being with family and walking her dog, Blue, a black Labrador with blue eyes, he said.

``She was a very loving and caring person _ she loved whatever she did in life,'' Seward said. ``The Lord must have wanted her.''

DePaolo worked at Wachovia Securities in Oneonta. Previously, she worked at Mohawk Community Bank in the Hannaford Plaza in Oneonta, according to an obituary, and she was a member of Community Bible Church in Franklin. The obituary said she enjoyed traveling, cooking, tending flowers and was a devoted mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.

Delaware deputies said DePaolo was driving home at about 5:15 p.m. Monday on state Route 28 in Franklin, just beyond the border with Otsego County.

DePaolo was pronounced dead at the scene by Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Ucci. The cause of death was massive trauma, deputies said, and no autopsy was to be done.

For an unknown reason, she drove into the oncoming lane of traffic, deputies said, and her Jeep Liberty collided with a Chevrolet Suburban driven by Dr. Michael Diaz, 43, of Oneonta.

Diaz was taken by Oneonta ambulance to Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown with severe injuries, deputies said. Bassett wasn't able to release information about Diaz, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. His home telephone number was unlisted.

Delaware County Undersheriff Douglas Vredenburgh said it is possible that black ice was a contributing factor, causing DePaolo to slide into the opposite lane. He said crews at the scene said they saw and experienced black ice, which forms on pavement when moisture freezes over, but a definitive cause may never be known.

Vredenburgh said the accident happened between Rod and Gun Club Road and Harker Road, which is about two miles north of the intersection with state Route 357. Route 28, like many rural highways in the Catskills, has twists and curves, he said, and the section where the accident happened was repaved last year and had adequate signage.

The state police Troop C Collision Reconstruction Unit is continuing an investigation into the accident, Vredenburgh said, and a final report may not be done for days or weeks, depending on the unit's workload.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts, Vredenburgh said.

Franklin Emergency Medical crews also assisted deputies, a media release from the sheriff's office said.

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