By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
HARTLAND – Icy conditions on Interstate 91 caused a series of mishaps on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 17, that sent three people to area hospitals and left eight vehicles, including twotractor trailer trucks, damaged along the North Hartland stretch of the highway alone.
The problems began further south in Springfield when a collision involving a large Canadian log truck and one of the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s snowplows shut down the southbound lanes entirely near Exit 7.
Then around 6:20 p.m. dispatchers began receiving reports of people trapped inside a commercial pickup truck belonging to Servpro that was on its side near the base of Miller Hill on the northbound side of I-91.
Hartland’s volunteer firefighters responded and Hartland Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bowers
said that when they arrived they found that the pickup truck “had lost control due to road conditions and struck an outcropping of rocks in the median and then ended up flopping back into the travel lanes of the interstate.”
One occupant was out right away and the driver, who had sustained some serious lacerations, had also been extricated by bystanders before fire crews arrived. Hartford Ambulances transported the victims to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center for treatment of injuries that were not believed to be life threatening.
Bowers said firefighters were dealing with the situation at Mile Marker 65, which had traffic “backed up for almost a mile-and-a-half,” when they began receiving reports shortly after 7 p.m., from drivers who had just made it up the northbound lanes, of some sort of large chain reaction crash about a mile south of their position.
One the first accident was cleared away, Bowers and his crews responded to the second scene where they found that a tractor trailer in the passing lane had suddenly come upon the back of the long line of traffic that had come to a halt for the Servpro crash.
As the 18-wheeler tried to stop, “the back of the trailer kicked out due to the road conditions and ended up catching a red pickup truck and dragging him for about
a hundred yards against the guardrails,” Bowers explained.
“Then he dragged that into another stopped vehicle, dislodging the pickup from the trailer, and then he just continued right down the side of five cars and then one box truck carrying U.S. mail,” Bowers said, although he noted, “As he went down the line the damage got less severe.”
The driver of the red pickup also ended up getting transported to the hospital for evaluation of a possible back injuries by one of the Hartford ambulances that had responded to the original accident call.
This article first appeared in the January 25, 2018 edition of the Vermont Standard.