BRATTLEBORO -- The drivers of two vehicles were taken for medical treatment following an accident that caused a lengthy traffic jam along Interstate 91 North at around noon, Friday.
Rachel D. Remy, 85, of Keene, N.H., and Francis P. Delprete, 71, of Wallingford, were the operators involved and both sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to Vermont State Police. Trooper Kurt Wagenbach said both victims were transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and Remy later had to be airlifted to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Mass., where she was listed in stable condition. The injuries suffered were to the drivers' heads, necks and torsos.
Wagenbach is conducting the investigation into the accident. He told the Reformer it appears Remy was driving in the right lane when Delprete, driving a van, tried to pass her in the left lane at about 11:54 a.m. It seems Remy then made a hard left turn, which caused a collision near mile-marker 11.80 when Delprete was unable to avoid her. Wagenbach said the reason Remy made that left turn is still under investigation. The collision occurred not far from the on-ramp near Exit 3.
Wagenbach said Remy had to be extracted from the vehicle by members of the Brattleboro Fire Department, while Delprete was able to get out of the van under his own power but was advised by Good Samaritans who stopped to help to remain in the driver's seat until an ambulance arrived. The trooper said both victims were wearing seatbelts, which saved their lives.
The vehicle Remy was driving had visible damage and was facing the wrong way on I-91 North. The van had come to a rest in the highway's median with its airbags deployed, and the hood severely damaged.
In addition to Wagenbach, another Vermont State trooper, two Rescue Inc. ambulances and a fire truck and heavy rescue vehicle from the Brattleboro Fire Department were on the scene.
Brattleboro Fire Chief Leonard Howard told the Reformer he and three firefighters reported to the crash.
Traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see and remained at a standstill for almost an hour before authorities allowed it to funnel through one lane of the left side of I-91 after the victims had been removed from the scene. Related traffic approaching Exit 3 was backed up to Exit 2. Traffic was not impeded on I-91 South.
Several drivers and passengers of vehicles stuck in the northbound lane started reading newspapers and making phone calls to occupy their time and some even exited the vehicles to survey the situation and converse with one another about what they knew. Howard said it took about two hours to reopen both lanes of I-91 North.
Wagenbach said the people stuck in traffic were very cooperative and understanding and members of Brattleboro Police Department helped alleviate traffic by advising operators to take Exit 3.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.