Reading police are continuing to investigate a head-on crash on the West Shore Bypass during the Wednesday morning rush that left an Exeter Township man dead.

Investigators were expecting an autopsy scheduled for late Thursday afternoon to help determine whether Steven Perkins, 51, died of natural causes or injuries from the crash. They believe he suffered a medical episode that caused him to lose control of his westbound car before it crossed a section of grassy median just east of the Lancaster Avenue interchange about 8 a.m.

Findings from the autopsy were unavailable Thursday evening.

Police provided the following account in the crash report:

A motorist who was traveling behind Perkins said Perkins' car was traveling at a normal speed and nothing appeared out of the ordinary when his Ford Mustang suddenly veered left into the concrete median barrier. The car banged against the barrier a couple of times until the barrier ended near the interchange, then crossed the grass median into the eastbound passing lane, where it collided with an oncoming car driven by Kenneth A. Heck, 60, of Laureldale.

The air bags of both vehicles inflated.

Reading Fire Department personnel needed mechanical means to free Heck, who was conscious, from his vehicle. He was taken to Reading Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition, a spokeswoman said.

Perkins was slumped over, unconscious, on the passenger seat. Medics began CPR before transporting him to Reading Hospital, where he could not be revived. A staff doctor pronounced him dead at 8:43 a.m.

The city's major evidence team was summoned to the scene.

Eastbound Route 422 was closed at Lancaster Avenue until about 10:45 a.m. as officials investigated. The crash also slowed westbound traffic.

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