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Trapped motorist endures frigid temps after SUV plunges into ravine

  • Colrain firefighter and EMT Colleen Worden helped the two dozen first responders in Heath pull a young woman to safety, following a driving accident Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • About two dozen first responders in Heath helped to pull a young woman to safety, lifting her out of an embankment about 100 feet down the road, following a crash Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • About two dozen first responders in Heath helped to pull a young woman to safety, lifting her out of an embankment about 100 feet down the road, following a driving accident Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • About two dozen first responders in Heath helped to pull a young woman to safety, lifting her out of an embankment about 100 feet down the road, following a driving accident Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Turners Fall Fire Chief John Zellman helped to lead the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team, who helped to pull a young woman to safety, lifting her out of an embankment about 100 feet down the road, following a driving accident Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Wesley Brothers, right, looks down the embankment to where he first found a young woman, who veered off the road. About two dozen first responders helped to pull her out, Wednesday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • An accident in Heath brought out about two dozen first responders to help rescue a young woman, who went down an embankment about 100 feet, Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

HEATH — A young woman was taken to the hospital for a leg injury and possible hypothermia after the SUV she was driving veered off the road landing on its side, about 100 feet down an embankment on West Branch Road late Wednesday morning.

About two dozen firefighters and paramedics were needed to rescue the woman after an alert passerby spotted tire tracks going off the road just before it turns into Adamsville Road.

Wesley Brothers, a Monroe resident who was on his way to visit a friend and often drives on the road, said he thought something looked off.

“My thought was to see if anybody was there and to go get help,” Brothers said.

Brothers checked the vehicle, on its side, and found the trapped driver was conscious. The SUV had knocked down a narrow tree on its way down the embankment.

Brothers went to his friend’s place to call 911, since there is no cell service in that area. They brought blankets to try to help keep the crash victim warm, while emergency personnel made their way to the scene.

Colrain and Heath fire departments arrived, with Greenfield and Turners Falls to follow. Greenfield’s chief, Robert Strahan, led operations at the scene, while Turners Falls Fire Chief John Zellmann helped to lead the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team.

Brothers told emergency personnel that the driver said she went off the road around 11 a.m. It was about two hours later that she was taken into the ambulance.

“This was a very difficult response,” Strahan said. “The roads are snowy and ice-covered, but the firefighters from Colrain and Heath did a wonderful job.”

Strahan also pointed to the efforts of the rescue team, which included several of its Franklin County members along with a few from Hampshire County. Emergency personnel first used a hydraulic extrication tool to get the woman, who was not identified, out of the vehicle. With ropes and pulleys, they were able to get her up onto the road in about an hour. Paramedics treated her for possible hypothermia.

Zellman said the operation went “rather smooth,” and it’s operations like these that were the reason emergency workers founded the now 80-person rescue team in 2014.

Massachusetts State Police is in charge of the formal investigation. Trooper Josh Lemay said speeding may have contributed to the crash.

A towing company from Erving was to lift the vehicle out of the embankment by mid to late afternoon, Zellman said earlier in the day.

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264