BETHEL – Two people suffered minor injuries in a spectacular four-vehicle accident late Monday morning on West Bethel Road.
The heavily traveled highway was closed for at least four hours as scores of tractor-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles lined the road for several miles after the 10:45 a.m. accident.
Police Sgt. S.R. White said a 1998 Dodge Neon driven by Theresa Perry, 77, of Rumford was hit nearly head-on by a 2000 Kenworth tractor-trailer truck loaded with a crane and driven by Daniel Morrison, 61, of Wakefield, Mich. The tractor is owned by Jeff Foster Inc. of Superior, Wisc.
Perry was taken by Bethel Rescue to Rumford Hospital where she was treated and released. Morrison was taken by Tri-Town Rescue to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway where he was treated and released.
White said Marcia Hovey, 40, of Bingham, driving a 1998 Ford pickup truck west, slowed down to allow a vehicle in front of her to turn left. Perry, who was behind the Hovey vehicle, also slowed down.
However, Douglas Swan, 19, of Bethel, who was driving a 1992 Dodge pickup truck behind Perry, failed to see her slow down and rear-ended the Dodge Neon. The impact sent Perry’s vehicle first into the rear of a trailer hitched to the Hovey truck then into the path of the eastbound tractor-trailer truck.
Hovey, her 6-year-old son, Swan, and a juvenile passenger were unhurt.
Morrison’s tractor sustained at least $70,000 damage. The crane was unharmed. Perry’s Dodge Neon was demolished; Hovey’s trailer sustained $1,000 damage, and Swan’s Dodge pickup sustained $1,500 damage.
Nearly a dozen firefighters and firefighting apparatus from the Bethel and Gilead fire departments either diverted traffic or cleaned up the site. Three state troopers and an Oxford County deputy sheriff assisted White.
White said Swan will be summoned for following a vehicle too closely.
About 50 gallons of fuel spilled from the tractor-trailer’s tank. The state Department of Environmental Protection is expected to inspect the site on Tuesday, said White.
White said the slow speed of all the vehicles may have prevented anyone from being killed during the accident.