Crash Snarls Traffic on 12A

Friday, August 21, 2015
West Lebanon — Authorities said an undisclosed medical incident appears to be the cause of a one-car crash on Route 12A Thursday morning that hospitalized the driver, toppled traffic lights and snarled traffic around the shopping plazas for hours.

Lebanon Deputy Police Chief Phillip Roberts said the vehicle, a small flat bed truck owned by Massachusetts-based Boston Granite Exchange, was traveling down the Interstate 89 south off-ramp toward Route 12A at 10:36 a.m. when it struck the large metal utility pole holding up traffic lights.

The metal pole was knocked to the ground, coming to rest across Route 12A south and all but one of the northbound lanes.

No other cars or pedestrians were struck, Roberts said.

“We’re just very fortunate,” Roberts said, noting that traffic is generally heavy in that area in the morning.

Emergency responders used the jaws of life and similar tools for more than a half-hour to extricate the driver, Kevin Neveu, 28, of Lowell, Mass., from the cab of the truck.

“It was a complicated extrication,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Neveu was conscious and talking when an ambulance transported him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. DHMC officials said Neveu was not on a list of patients who they could release information about.

Roberts declined to say what type of medical incident Neveu may have suffered, citing patient confidentiality rules. Nobody else was in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Northbound traffic on Route 12A was touch-and-go for at least an hour while the utility pole lay in the street, as emergency responders focused their efforts on extricating Neveu. Some traffic was able to pass through the righthand lane.

After Neveu was transported, city workers used a plasma cutter to divide the pole into smaller pieces and cart it away.

Route 12A southbound traffic was blocked by a police detour at the Kmart Plaza, allowing only cars headed for I-89 north. Much of the other southbound traffic was funneled into the plaza and through the interstate underpass, which opened in late 2012 after decades of logistical wrangling.

Having the underpass available “was certainly beneficial,” Roberts said. Southbound traffic on Route 12A reopened around 12:30 p.m.

An average of 14,000 cars per day traveled on Route 12A south of Glen Road Plaza in 2013, according to state traffic data.

Roberts said he did not know Neveu’s intended destination, nor where he had been traveling from.

Roberts said Neveu will not be charged in relation to the accident. However, Roberts said Neveu was found to have been driving with a suspended license and was cited for that offense.

A message left at Boston Granite Exchange’s office in Haverhill, Mass., on Thursday was not returned.

Roberts said the utility pole is owned by the state. Lebanon police officers were on hand to direct traffic at the intersection for most of the day and into the night, with Roberts expecting that a temporary replacement light would arrive sometime in the evening.

He said he was not sure when the state would be able to permanently replace the pole.

Maggie Cassidy can be reached at .

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