State Police Investigate Serious Crash on Massachusetts Turnpike
Pick-up Struck Tractor Trailer Stopped in Traffic Caused by Earlier Truck Fire
Preliminary investigation by Trooper Thomas Adams indicates that a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck was traveling at a high rate of speed in the breakdown lane when it swerved suddenly to avoid a 1997 Ford Escort that was disabled and stopped in the breakdown lane. The Tundra made contact with the Escort and continued to its left, where it entered the rightmost travel lane and smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer combination. That vehicle, a 2002 Freightliner tractor with a California registration hauling an empty Grumman-made trailer, also registered in California, was stopped in residual traffic caused by an early morning truck fire about a mile to the east.
The impact of the crash crumpled the Tundra's front end under the rear of the trailer, trapping the driver in the pickup's cab. State troopers and Grafton firefighters worked for approximately 25 minutes to extricate the driver from the mangled Tundra. State Police requested a medical helicopter, which responded and transported the victim to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. Both sides of the Turnpike were shut down for several minutes to accommodate the landing of the helicopter.
State Police have preliminary identification of the Tundra driver but are not releasing it tonight pending further confirmation. Preliminary information indicates he is a 43-year-old resident of southeastern Massachusetts. The drivers of the tractor, a 49-year-old Glendale, Calif., man, and the Ford Escort, a 26-year-old Douglas man, reported no injuries.
The facts and circumstances of the crash remain under investigation to determine if charges are warranted against the Tundra driver. State law prohibits unauthorized use of breakdown lanes. The investigation is being conducted by Troop E of the Massachusetts State Police with the assistance of the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section, and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section. The Grafton Fire Department also responded and assisted in rescue and extrication operations.
The westbound side of the Turnpike and the two leftmost eastbound lanes were reopened shortly after 10:30 a.m., just after the departure of the medical helicopter. The eastbound right travel lane and the breakdown lane, however, remained closed until 12:33 p.m. to facilitate the crash investigation and cleanup. The closures caused traffic backups of several miles in both directions, the eastbound backup reaching approximately eight miles.
At the time of the crash, the tractor-trailer was in residual stop-and-go traffic caused by a fire that burned another tractor-trailer about a mile to the east at 1:55 a.m. In that incident, a tractor-trailer out of Ontario, Canada, was hauling corn when its brakes caught on fire. The fire was suppressed by Grafton and Westborough firefighters.
The fire suppression and cleanup operation necessitated complete closure of the eastbound lanes for a period of time, and partial closure thereafter, causing the traffic backup that still existed at the time of the later crash. The corn was off-loaded and hauled away. The Great Superior-made trailer is owned by Scotlyn Commodities of Vittoria, Ontario. The tractor, a 2000 Kenworth truck, was owned by its driver, a Guelph, Ontario man who was not injured in the fire.
No further information is available at this time.