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I-84 Accidents Create Extended Travel Delays



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I-84 Accidents Create Extended Travel Delays

By Andrew Gorosko

Tuesday was not an easy day to drive through town, either on Interstate 84 or on adjacent local roads, as three accidents on the highway in and near Newtown caused extended vehicle backups and travel delays for drivers.

One accident occurred during the morning rush on westbound I-84, west of the Bancroft Road overpass. The second incident took place midday on eastbound I-84, near Exit 10. The third crash, which caused the most traffic congestion, happened on eastbound I-84 near Exit 14 in Southbury during the evening rush, resulting in traffic backups on eastbound I-84 in Newtown.

After the accidents occurred, drivers seeking to avoid backups on the highway got off I-84 at available off-ramps, resulting in congestion on adjacent local roads.

About 6:44 am, motorist Donald Degen 61, of Harwinton was driving a 2002 Nissan Frontier pickup truck on the left shoulder of westbound I-84, west on the Bancroft Road overpass, when Degen struck some steel guardcabling alongside the highway, state police said.

The truck then rolled over several times, coming to rest on its wheels.

Sandy Hook firefighters responded to the accident. Newtown Hook & Ladder was placed on standby status.

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company Chief Bill Halstead said that Degen was trapped within the truck. Firefighters used specialized tools to remove the truck’s roof and open a door of the vehicle, allowing Degen to be freed from the wreckage, the fire chief said.

The extrication took about ten minutes to perform, he said. About 15 firefighters went to the accident scene.

Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps members transported Degen to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries, according to state police. Degen received an infraction for failure to drive in an established travel lane.

The extrication project and accident cleanup, which occurred in the left lane of three lanes on westbound I-84, caused traffic backups and travel delays on the road during the morning rush, with commuter traffic backing up well into Southbury. Drivers got off the highway at available exit ramps, causing congestion on local roads.

At about 12:50 pm, motorist Maria Herdzik, 48, of New Milford, was driving a 2002 Honda Civic in the right lane of eastbound I-84, near Exit 10, when the auto went off the right road shoulder and entered the grassy area lying between Exit 10’s off-ramp and on-ramp, state police said.

The Honda spun 180 degrees and skidded across the on-ramp, striking an embankment along the right road shoulder, state police said.

State police said that Herdzik and two child passengers in the vehicle were not injured and refused medical attention at the scene. Enforcement information was not available.

The accident caused travel delays in the area.

Messy Crash

In the accident that caused the largest mess and took the longest time to clear from the highway, a tractor-trailer truck driver who was hauling a load of metal shavings got into an accident on eastbound I-84 near Exit 14 in Southbury, which resulted in traffic backups that extended miles, resulting in travel delays that continued until late Tuesday night.

Trucker Gary Cowen, 61, of Madisonville, Ky., was driving a 2006 International tractor-trailer truck on a curve on eastbound I-84 in the area between the Exit 14 off-ramp and on-ramp at about 4:04 pm, when he lost control of the vehicle and it drifted to the right side of the road, flipping over onto its right side and scattering its load of metal shavings, according to state police. That metal spillage required an extensive cleanup project.

Cowen was not injured in the incident in which the truck came to rest in the area where the Exit 14 on-ramp merges with the highway, according to state police. Cowen was at fault for failure to stay in the established lane, state police said.

Besides spilling its cargo, the truck leaked some fuel, requiring state environmental inspectors to check the spillage problem. Southbury firefighters responded to the crash.

The accident caused extended travel delays on eastbound I-84, with traffic reportedly backing up as far west as Danbury at the height of the congestion.

Backups continued late into the night on eastbound I-84 in Newtown.

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