DUMMERSTON -- A Putney woman gave her life Sunday to save a cat trapped on the median of Interstate 91.

Cynthia Long, 75, was crossing the southbound lane of the highway in an attempt to reach the animal when she struck by a vehicle.

She died at the scene of severe blunt force trauma.

"She was an animal lover, apparently, and had a number of cats and dogs, according to her family," said State Trooper Kurt Wagenbach, who delivered the news of Long's death to her family following the accident.

"She was trying to do something out of the goodness of her heart, and it had tragic consequences," Wagenbach said.

Long was traveling with Carolyn Handy, 60, also of Putney.

"They were life-long friends," Wagenbach said. "She said she has known Cynthia since she was 3 years old."

Around 4 p.m., the two woman were returning from a gardening class at the School for International Training in Brattleboro.

They were about to take Exit 4 in Dummerston when they saw the cat, said Wagenbach. They continued to take the exit, then turned around to get back on the interstate and retrieve the animal.

They stopped on the shoulder of the highway just after the Exit 4 on ramp.

Long got out of the car and was crossing the passing lane when she was struck by Jonathan Ribas, 28, who was traveling southbound in a 2007 Mazda 6.

Wagenbach said police received several calls regarding the accident. The first was from Ribas, he said.


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Wagenbach added that the police do not believe speed was a factor and have ruled out any possibility that alcohol was involved.

"It was sunset; there was a solar glare," Wagenbach said. "That may have been a factor in obstructing his vision."

There is also a curve in the roadway in that portion of southbound Interstate 91, he said, adding that the accident is still being investigated.

The cat was not seen by police, though the police did receive calls regarding a cat in the area prior to the accident, said Sgt. Christopher Buckley with the State Police.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Trooper Wagenbach at the Vermont State Police, Brattleboro barracks, 802-254-2382.

Jaime Cone can be reached at jcone@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.