The car that slammed into another auto in western Loudoun County Monday afternoon, killing the drivers of both vehicles, had been seen by other motorists driving mostly in the wrong lane for about eight miles immediately before the collision, a Virginia state trooper said yesterday.

The trooper, A.D. Blankenship, also said the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department received a complaint from a Hillsboro woman minutes before the accident that a man had pulled his car onto her lawn and was staggering in the front yard of her home in Hillsboro, about eight miles from the spot where the collision later occurred. Blankenship said he believes that man was the driver of the striking car, Larry Edgar Grimm, 39.

Grimm's car crossed the center line of Rte. 671 in Neersville about 4:40 p.m. and ran head-on into a sedan carrying a couple who were returning from a holiday shopping trip with relatives, Blankenship said. The couple, Ora (Casey) Cassidy and his wife Mabel, both 69, were slightly more than 100 yards from the driveway of their home, Blankenship said.

Grimm, who lived in Sharpsburg, Md., was killed instantly. Cassidy was pronounced dead at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Md., where he was taken by helicopter.

Mabel Cassidy was reported in stable condition yesterday at Loudoun Memorial Hospital in Leesburg with a fractured hip.

None of the occupants of either car was wearing a seat belt, Blankenship said.

He said bottles of brandy were found in Grimm's car, but that the alcohol content of his blood, if any, will not be known until an autopsy report is made.

He said the sheriff's department sent units to investigate the complaint by the Hillsboro woman that Grimm was staggering in her yard. But Blankenship said the officers did not arrive until after the accident.

Grimm, who is survived by a wife and 9-week-old son, had been released from his job at a construction firm at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Blankenship said. Police are still trying to learn where he spent the time between leaving work and the crash.

The Cassidys had just returned from an shopping trip to Martinsburg, W.Va., with Mabel Cassidy's sister, Gladys Cogle, and Michelle Thompson, 13, the daughter of a niece, Brenda Thompson, according to Thompson's husband, Harry Thompson.

"Because [the Cassidys] didn't have children of their own, they always treated my wife and daughter as their children," Harry Thompson said. "They more or less adopted them."

Ora Cassidy, a mechanic, was retired from the U.S. Park Service at Harpers Ferry, Thompson said. He had served in the Philippines with the Army during World War II.

Mabel Cassidy devoted most of her time to serving her husband, Thompson said. "Her biggest joy in life was looking after her husband. They were inseparable."