There is a curving section of Wasserman Way, just east of its intersection with Mile Hill Road South, which is especially hazardous during wet conditions, with many westbound motorists having been involved in accidents there.
Most typically, the incidents are one-vehicle crashes in which westbound autos travel off the road, sometimes rolling over and sometimes ripping down sections of chain-link fence at the southwest corner of the Reed Intermediate School grounds.
On the afternoon of Thursday, November 7 amid rainy, wet road conditions, yet another accident happened in the area, which has a posted 30 mph speed limit.
In this case, however, a westbound SUV that encountered slick conditions went out of control, entered the eastbound lane and collided head-on with a full-size eastbound coach bus, resulting in heavy damage.
Police said that if the dynamics of the collision been somewhat different, the SUV driver could have been much more seriously injured.
Police Officer Robert Haas investigated the collision.
Following the intense crash, volunteer firefighters from Newtown Hook & Ladder, Sandy Hook, and Botsford responded to the scene to free the teenage driver who became trapped within the SUV after the impact.
Police said motorist Adam J. Debowski, 18, of 25 Pine Tree Hill Road was driving a 2003 Honda Pilot SUV westbound on Wasserman Way, and had just rounded a curve to the left, as Saul Hernandez-Ortiz, 68, of Hartford was driving a 2009 Van Hool C-2045 bus on a straight eastbound section of the road.
Neither vehicle had any passengers. The bus involved in the accident is capable of seating up to 65 people.
Police said Debowski applied the Honda’s brakes, but lost control of the SUV and entered the opposite lane.
The bus driver saw the Honda spin out on the road in front of him and then steered to the right in seeking to avoid a crash, but the two vehicles collided in the eastbound lane, police said.
The full front end of the Honda collided with the left front corner of the bus.
After the impact, the Honda spun around 180 degrees counterclockwise and was pushed backward about 25 feet by the momentum of the bus, police said.
The bus then struck some curbing along the right side of the road. The front end of the bus climbed onto a lawn, with its rear wheels remaining on the pavement. The front end of the bus stopped about ten feet short of a large tree.
Hernandez-Ortiz was not injured, police said.
Due to the intense impact, the dashboard within the Honda was forced downward, trapping Debowski within the vehicle .
Firefighters then deliberately worked to free him from the wreckage. Debowski was conscious and alert during the extrication, which took less than 20 minutes. About 20 firefighters responded to the scene.
“[Debowski] was very, very lucky,” Hook & Ladder Chief Ray Corbo said of the relatively minor injuries that the driver received.
The accident could have been much more serious in terms of injuries, Officer Haas said.
Officer Haas said that the wet conditions at the time of the accident were a factor.
As the firefighters extricated Debowski from the wreckage, rainbow-colored plumes of automotive fluids floating atop water drained down Wasserman Way’s southern gutter.
Firefighters spread absorbent materials on the contaminants to isolate them.
They also informed the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection of the spillage.
After the wreckage was cleared from the pavement, a sanding truck spread sand across the pavement to neutralize the slipperiness of the spilled fluids.
Wrecking crews towed away the bus and the SUV.
During the extrication and cleanup, the section of Wasserman Way near the accident was closed and traffic was diverted on a detour through Fairfield Hills.
Debowski received hand and leg injuries. Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps transported him to Danbury Hospital where he was treated and released, police said.
Chief Corbo observed, “We see a lot of accidents a year in that area ... You need to slow down, whether it’s wet or dry … It’s in front of a school,” he said.
Debowski received an infraction from police for failure to drive to the right on a curve.