Several accidents occurred in Newtown on Interstate 84 on Monday, April 14, resulting in extensive traffic backups on I-84’s westbound and eastbound lanes, causing motorists to seek alternate routes on local roads, thus creating traffic congestion on those streets.
At 12:47 pm, state police received a report that a Peterbilt tractor, which had been traveling westward on I-84 between Exits 10 and 9, had gone off the road and landed precariously on the sloped median, balanced on a rock.
The Peterbilt was not hauling a trailer, so no cargo was involved in the crash, but the need to drain diesel fuel from the tractor’s tanks, in order to prevent the fuel’s spillage when the vehicle was being removed, proved a time-consuming and complicated task.
Compounding the congestion caused by that incident was a two-car accident, which was reported to state police about 12:42 pm on westbound I-84, about one-quarter mile east of the tractor mishap.
Of the tractor accident, state police said that driver Michael Glynn, 55, of Hamden was driving the 1996 Peterbilt Model 375 tractor westward when he lost control and then struck an about 120-foot-long section of flex-beam metal guardrail along the right road shoulder.
That impact caused the tractor to cross over the westbound lanes and then leave the left side of the roadway, striking several large trees on the steeply sloped median embankment. The tractor came to rest precariously balanced on a rock on the median.
Glynn was not injured. He was able to get out of the heavily damaged truck by himself.
State police said Glynn told them that he had veered to the right in order to avoid striking the rear end a westbound Chevrolet Monte Carlo coupe that was traveling in front of him. The Chevrolet left the scene.
State police issued Glynn an infraction for failure to drive in the established lane.
Hawleyville volunteer firefighters responded to the incident. They placed absorbent pads on the ground to isolate about three gallons of fuel that had spilled out of the tractor’s fuel tanks.
Hawleyville Fire Chief John Basso said that firefighters contained the fuel spill, they then stood by at the scene in the event of a possible fire.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) also responded to the scene, to supervise an environmental cleanup firm’s work to drain about 100 gallons of fuel from the tractor’s tanks so that the fuel would not spill out when the tractor was eventually pulled away from its precarious position.
“This proactive approach eliminated any environmental impact, as no soil or surface water was affected,” said DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain.
State police said state Department of Transportation (DOT) staffers set up partial, intermittent lane closures on both the westbound and eastbound sides of I-84 so that the tractor’s recovery could be accomplished by wrecker crews, which were positioned on both sides of the highway.
Thus, traffic traveling in both directions was reduced to one travel lane, as needed.
State police said that they left the accident scene at about 5:20 pm.
At 12:49 pm, Hook & Ladder volunteer firefighters responded to a two-car accident that occurred on westbound I-84, about one-quarter mile east of the tractor accident.
Hook & Ladder Fire Chief Ray Corbo said firefighters provided immediate medical care to the drivers involved in that incident.
State police said that westbound motorist Annmarie Maher, 46, of 25 Farm Field Ridge Road, who was driving a 2008 Toyota Prius, had stopped in the left lane for heavy traffic conditions and was then struck from behind by westbound motorist Gail Hickey, 66, of Southbury, who was driving a 2006 Buick Lucerne sedan.
Danbury Ambulance staff members transported Maher to Danbury Hospital for treatment of possible injuries, state police said. The accident is under investigation.
Several other accidents that occurred on I-84 in Newtown on April 14, compounding the traffic congestion on that highway and local roads.
Those incidents included a crash on westbound I-84, east of Exit 9, which happened late in the afternoon, as well as a collision that occurred on eastbound I-84, east of Exit 11, in the early afternoon.