Route 4 Crash Claims Life: Hartland Woman Killed in Collision with Trailer
Rescue personnel work at the scene of a three-vehicle accident on Route 4 in Hartford yesterday afternoon. The driver of a Subaru station wagon was killed when her car collided head-on with an unloaded tractor-trailer. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Jennifer Mandarino, of Quechee, walks from the scene of a fatal car accident on Route 4 yesterday. Mandarino heard the crash from her home and rushed to the scene. “I tried to help her,” she said of one of the drivers, Patience Hutt, 40, of Woodstock, who was killed. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hartford — A Hartland woman was killed after her Subaru collided with a horse trailer on a curve on Route 4 yesterday evening, police said, in a grisly wreck that snarled traffic for the evening commute.
The woman, identified by police as Patience Hutt, 40, was driving west on Route 4 while an Equine Express horse trailer was heading east, Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brad Vail said. The collision occurred almost right at the Hartford/Hartland line, near the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center, about 4 p.m.
The Subaru was carried about 50 yards, and ended up directly across from Wood Road, in a pull-off near the westbound lane of Route 4. Hutt was wearing a seat belt, police said.
The semi-truck and trailer, which was not carrying any animals, slid partially down an embankment off the westbound lane, coming to rest not far from the Subaru.
The driver of the semi-truck, Billy Surles, 44, of Howe, Texas, and his driving partner, 28-year-old Raymond Keyrouse, also of Texas, were not injured, Vail said.
Another vehicle, a Nissan Versa, that had been driving behind the Subaru was clipped by the horse trailer and its occupants witnessed the collision, Vail said.
The driver of that vehicle, 41-year-old Nicolas Allard, and his passenger, Christophe Manet, also 41, are both from France and spoke little English, Vail said. A translator was called to the scene to help police interview the men, who were not injured.
Vermont State Police’s crash reconstruction team responded to the scene to assist in the investigation. Police last night did not say whether one of the vehicles crossed the center line or if something else caused the collision to occur.
A representative from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and inspectors from the state Department of Motor Vehicle were on hand to examine the semi-truk and trailer.
Personnel from the Vermont State Police, Hartford Police, Hartford Fire Department and others swarmed the location of the wreck but, with the woman pronounced dead at the scene, they focused on securing and cleaning the area.
Engine parts dangled from the front of the Subaru, and police draped a white sheet in the space where the driver’s side window used to be. The car came to rest at a picturesque overlook of the Ottauquechee River, where it makes a gentle turn east.
Jennifer Mandarino was at home on Wood Road when she heard the unmistakable sound of an accident.
“I heard the shrieking of the tractor (trailer) — or maybe it was the car being pushed,” Mandarino said. “It was definitely a loud car noise.”
Mandarino rushed down Wood Road and into the middle of Route 4, where two confused men handed her a cell phone — the men were struggling to give a police dispatcher the location of the wreck.
Mandarino saw smoke pouring from the engine, but ducked into the front compartment of the Subaru anyway.
The woman was still talking initially, Mandarino said. But the color drained quickly from her face, and she stopped breathing. Mandarino, who said she had some training in emergency response, tried to gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it was hopeless.
“I gave her a blessing on her journey,” Mandarino said in an interview, after she decided to return to the scene and watch police mill around the shattered Subaru.
Police shut down a two mile stretch of Route 4 in both directions, diverting traffic down West Gilson Avenue in Quechee, near Mid Vermont Christian School, and Route 12 in Woodstock.
It was the second fatal accident on Route 4 in Hartford this past two months. In March, a Hartford man and a Woodstock woman died in a head-on collision in Quechee, a mile west of Fat Hat Clothing Co., on a sharp curve.
Earlier yesterday, Hartford police responded to a two car collision near the Jiffy Mart in Route 4, Vail said. There were no serious injuries.
Mark Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3304.