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Slick conditions contribute to consecutive Route 202 crashes

  • A crane was called in to help remove a Jeep Liberty after the vehicle rolled over an embankment off of Route 202 on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • A crane was called in to help remove a Jeep Liberty after the vehicle rolled over an embankment off of Route 202 on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • A crane was called in to help remove a Jeep Liberty after the vehicle rolled over an embankment off of Route 202 on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • A crane was called in to help remove a Jeep Liberty after the vehicle rolled over an embankment off of Route 202 on Tuesday. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

NEW SALEM — Slippery road conditions contributed to two consecutive accidents on Route 202 Tuesday night, with one driver being transported to the hospital.

The initial accident, involving a Jeep Liberty with Utah plates, occurred shortly after 9:30 p.m. According to New Salem Fire Chief Joe Cuneo, the vehicle was traveling northbound when it went over the guardrail and toppled down the embankment.

Cuneo pointed to the many dents in the guardrail, and deep gouges in the dirt that marked the vehicle’s descent down the hill. Despite the vehicle rolling over, Cuneo said the driver, who was the sole occupant, was able to extricate herself from the Jeep before emergency responders arrived.

Cuneo said he wasn’t aware of the extent of her injuries, but that she was taken by Orange ambulance, most likely to Athol Hospital.

“Whether she was going too fast or not is hard to say,” he said. “At some point, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going, if you’re going downhill you’re gonna slip.”

Cuneo said the New Salem Fire Department has responded to numerous accidents in the area over the years, which he referred to as Pickerel Hill, near Elm Street. Dips in the valley that ice over faster than hilltops can create conditions that Cuneo compared to ice skating Tuesday night.

Another accident, though, quickly followed the first. Alexis Hache, 27, of Athol, said she was also driving north on Route 202 when she noticed a vehicle with its hazard lights on at the bottom of the hill. When she hit the brakes on her 2006 Toyota Corolla and tried to slow down, Hache said she lost control.

“The next thing I knew I was on top of a guardrail,” she said.

Though Hache’s vehicle didn’t go over the embankment, she recounted having a flat tire and an oil leak. Hache, the sole occupant, was unharmed.

“Someone had it worse than I did,” she said.

Both vehicles were towed, with first responders calling in a crane to hoist the Jeep back up the embankment. Meanwhile, Massachusetts State Police directed traffic, as Route 202 was temporarily one lane.

Highway Department trucks could be seen shortly after the accident spreading salt on Route 202.