A close friend of the doctor whose car crashed into a New Jersey state trooper Monday evening, killing both men, said he had a history of diabetes and could have lost control for medical reasons.
Kristi Schaller, 60, of Pittsgrove, said Dr. Lloyd Rudley, 61, several years ago had a medical episode that left him unable to work for about a year.
Schaller said she was speaking publicly to counter suspicions that Rudley may have been drunk or on drugs when the accident occurred.
"He never touched alcohol a day in his life," Schaller said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by authorities.
Trooper Frankie Williams, 31, was responding to reports of an erratic driver on Route 55 when Rudley's Toyota Corolla veered from the southbound lanes, crossed a grassy median, and collided head-on into Williams' patrol car.
Williams, who had graduated from the academy in January, was flown to Cooper University Hospital, where he later died.
Rudley was pronounced dead at the scene.
Schaller said Rudley lived in an apartment in Philadelphia and worked several days a week maintaining a psychiatry practice in Elmer, Salem County.
Rudley had a routine and likely ended work around 6 p.m., drove to the Walmart in Vineland to get exercise and shop, and was planning to return to Philadelphia when he accidentally entered Route 55 going south, Schaller said.
"It was a tragedy for both sides," she said.
About three or four years ago, Schaller and her brother found Rudley unconscious at a family home he kept in Elmer, she said. That led to a lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation for the doctor.
Schaller said she did not know the cause of the medical problem because Rudley did not discuss it.
She did know about his diabetes because they grew up together and he had been injecting himself with insulin since he was 8 years old, she said.
He did not have any siblings, and after his parents died, he spent most holidays for the last decade and a half with Schaller's family.
The last time they saw each was Thanksgiving.
"He was like a family member," she said.