Chris Baker, 24 years old, of West Road, Stephentown, died suddenly on June 28, 2012 in a tragic car accident. Family and friends are all greatly relieved that there was no suffering. He was the beloved son of Nancy Petersen and Brian Baker and his grieving and adored and adoring sister, Emily. Some of his many survivors include his wonderful grandmother, Edith Petersen and his late grandfather, Howard; his aunts and uncles, Lynn and Nick Kauffman, Ray Petersen, Ron and Viki Petersen and Sandy Baker Metzger and Bud; there are numerous wonderful cousins. Chris is also survived by his elderly dog, Toby, and his dear pal, Ellie. Chris attended the Berlin Central Schools, the LaSalle Institute, the Loomis Chaffee School and graduated from the Albany Academy. He received his associate's degree in science and physics from Hudson Valley Community College with highest honors, and he just completed his junior year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the honor roll in applied physics. In secondary school, Chris was an avid and successful soccer player and wrestler. He was also an outstanding snowboarder, among his many interests. Chris, selfless to a fault, and fiercely loyal to his friends and family, had just returned from an incredible trip with two close friends, Dan VanEmburgh, and Richie Couch, to the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. They had the time of their lives. Chris had a gift and could talk to people from all walks of life he made them feel comfortable and wanted. Chris loved working on the family peony farm for years and also made many 4 a.m. flower deliveries with his sister to the wholesalers in New York City and Boston. The saddened buyers told us, among other things, "Chris always had a kind word and a joke." He also enjoyed working Saturdays at Meissners' Auction House in New Lebanon, where he was loved by all and treated like family. Chris's time with us was sadly too short, just at the dawn of his next phase. He lived a rich, full and adventurous life. While he was no saint, he gave of himself completely to everyone who knew him. He had a really good, solid ride, and he departed with few regrets. Chris loved our land and fields and this Valley community. His family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of kindness, support and caring from friends and relatives near and a far. All who have shared their thoughts with us have said, "He always had a smile on his face." Chris was a gift to his family and his friends. Relatives and friends are invited to visitation at the Hall & Higgins Funeral Home, 457 NY 43, Stephentown on Monday, July 2 from 3 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, July 3 at 11 a.m. in the Stephentown Federated Church, 1513 Garfield Road, Stephentown. Burial will follow in the Garfield Cemetery.
STEPHENTOWN — When Christopher Baker was around, talk of physics filled the air of his home. "I would sit around and talk about politics, the law or sports, but when Chris was with his friends, all they talked about was physics," his father, local lawyer Brian Baker, said Friday. "He was really smart." Baker, a 24-year-old who was studying applied physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, died Thursday when he was thrown from a car that flipped on Cranston Road. The driver, identified by authorities as town resident Brendan Hoffman, 20, climbed from the wreckage and left in a friend's car that stopped at the accident scene, Rensselaer County Sheriff Jack Mahar said. The wreck occurred shortly before 1 a.m., but authorities didn't find Baker until Hoffman's father called shortly before 5 a.m. to say his son told him there may have been a passenger in the car. No charges have been filed, although the crash remained under investigation. Brian Baker had advice for other parents. "Hug your kids and tell them you love them, because life is very fragile and they could be gone in an instant," he said. Brian Baker, a longtime town attorney and activist, said his family is devastated at the loss. "We lost a beautiful son and want everyone who is a parent out there to know the importance of what we now know: Treasure the gifts that you have," Baker said. "This is tough, really tough." The heartache for the well-known Rensselaer County family is more acute because their son was thrown from the car and went unnoticed for more than four hours. Baker suffered massive injuries in the crash and likely died quickly, officials familiar with the case said Friday. A short death notice received Friday by the Times Union noted that Baker, "beloved son of Brian C. Baker and Nancy M. Petersen and brother of Emily Baker died instantly on Thursday morning from injuries he received in a one-car automobile accident." A full obituary will be in Sunday's editions for services being conducted by the Hall & Higgins Funeral Home. Sheriff's deputies were called to Cranston Road after another motorist reported that a car driving southbound nearly hit his vehicle, lost control on a curve and rolled over before landing in a ditch. Mahar said the other motorist approached the wreckage to help the driver, Hoffman, when a woman drove up in a third car. The witness told investigators that the driver climbed out of the wreckage and left the area in the woman's car, the sheriff said. The wrecked car was then towed, and the scene was cleared. Deputies returned to the crash site after Hoffman's father called, the sheriff said. It was then that they found Christopher Baker dead in a grassy ravine about 100 feet from where the wreck occurred and on the opposite side of the road from where the car landed. Mahar said Hoffman had been at Baker's house before the accident. Deputies found Hoffman undergoing treatment at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass., and were interviewing him Thursday. Authorities have not released the identity of the woman who picked up Hoffman. Rensselaer County District Attorney Richard McNally said the investigation would continue, and he would not release further details on Friday. "Everyone in the legal community has been reaching out, and we want them to know we appreciate their thoughts," Baker said. "Chris' many friends have been gathering at the house as well, and they have been a comfort." email@example.com • 518-454-5696 • @BobGardinier