A Russian couple studying for their doctorates in science were killed early Friday morning when their car slid into the path of a van on Route 7 at the Pittsford/Rutland Town line.
Killed in the crash were Igor Slobodkin, 28, and his wife, 26-year-old Anya Pogosyants. The pair lived in Cambridge, Mass.
Slobodkin studied molecular biology at Tufts University; his wife studied computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both had begun their doctoral programs in 1991.
According to colleagues at the two universities, the couple was on their way to Lake Placid, N.Y., where Slobodkin planned to meet up with friends to go ice climbing. Pogosyants reportedly was looking forward to skiing for the first time.
State Police Trooper Albert Abdelnour said the couple was headed north on Route 7 shortly after midnight when Slobodkin lost control of the car on the snowy road and the vehicle veered onto the southbound lane.
The car was struck by a repair van owned by the Hutchins and White fuel company, Abdelnour said.
The force of the crash sheared off the right side of the couple's car and pushed the vehicle over the embankment on the west side of the road, police said.
Both Slobodkin and Pogosyants were killed on impact, police said.
Abdelnour described the road as "slick" and said it was snowing at the time of the crash.
The driver of the one-ton 1994 Ford van, 35- year-old Keith Fredricks of Castleton, suffered only a minor injury to his hand, Abdelnour said. Fredricks was heading south, on his way from one repair call to another, at the time of the crash, the trooper said.
The accident, which occurred near Foley's Distributing, closed a stretch of Route 7 for more than three hours, police said. Traffic was diverted around the accident through Route 3 and Pinnacle Ridge Road.
The couple's research supervisors remembered them Friday as dedicated students and outgoing people.
Slobodkin "was a unique guy, talented in many ways and an excellent scientist," said his adviser at Tufts, Dr. Carol Kumamoto. She described him as an insightful scientist, as well as a talented photographer, artist and inventor.
Kumamoto said Slobodkin's sense of humor would be missed in her university laboratory, where he studied the genes responsible for the growth and change of a disease-causing yeast.
At MIT, Pogosyants studied the theory of computation, according to Professor Nancy Lynch, her adviser.
"She was extremely friendly, very well- connected, very well liked by everybody," Lynch recalled.
The professor said Pogosyants had "collaborations all over the place" with her research and was helping other, more junior graduate students and an undergraduate with their work.
A spokesman at MIT and a spokeswoman at Tufts said they expected memorial services would be held for each student at a later date.