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Hartford Man Dies in Three-Vehicle Crash on Route 4

  • A fatal three-vehicle collision involving a sedan, a utility truck and a tractor trailer occurred on Route 4 in Bridgewater, Vt., early Tuesday morning, November 29, 2016. One driver was pronounced dead at the scene. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The driver of a Vermont Agency of Transportation truck lost control on an icy Route 110 in Chelsea, Vt., on November 29, 2016. No one was injured. (Orange County Sheriff photograph)

  • Umpire Bob Ammel waits between innings of an American Legion baseball game on July 18, 2016, at Lebanon High. Ammel was killed Tuesday in a vehicle crash on Vermont Route 4. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bridgewater — A 62-year-old Hartford man was killed on Tuesday when a tractor-trailer swerved to avoid another vehicle and slammed head-on into an Irving Oil truck he was driving on Route 4 in Bridgewater.

A family member identified the driver as Robert “Bob” Ammel Jr., a father of three, a longtime baseball umpire and a man who enjoyed helping others in any way he could.

Ammel died of injuries he sustained in the crash and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Vermont State Police Trooper Christopher Blais said in a news release issued on Tuesday night.

The crash happened around 7:45 a.m. near Pearson Road on a section of roadway that was covered with a partial coat of ice due to freezing rain, Blais said.

Susan Cadwell Brown, 56, of Bridgewater, was driving west on Route 4 when she entered a curve and lost control of her vehicle, causing her to cross into the eastbound lane and into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.

Tractor-trailer driver Cecil Madison, 53, of Herkimer, N.Y., swerved into the westbound lane to avoid hitting Cadwell Brown’s vehicle and struck Ammel’s utility truck head-on.

Cadwell Brown and Madison both suffered minor injuries in the collision and were treated on scene.

The crash remains under investigation, Blais said.

Meanwhile, Ammel’s family is mourning the loss of its beloved husband, father and grandfather.

“He is just a sweet man who cares for the kids in the community and his family, and wants everyone to do well and be well,” his daughter Kylie Curtis said in a telephone interview on Tuesday night.

Curtis, a Meriden resident and 2002 Hartford High School graduate, described her father as a hardworking man who never quit. He would work long hours for Irving Oil during the day and then drive, sometimes hours, to umpire a baseball game or referee a football game.

“It was something he prided himself on,” Curtis said.

Throughout the years, Ammel umpired hundreds of legion, high school and Babe Ruth baseball games for Upper Valley teams.

He even instilled in his own children a love for baseball and other sports. Curtis went on to play ice hockey and golf at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

His oldest daughter, Betsy, helped build the University of Vermont’s varsity women’s hockey program, while his son, Dan, played football at Bridgton Academy and Sacred Heart.

She said her father very much enjoyed dressing up as Santa Claus on the Rotary Club of White River’s Polar Express train ride and for other community events.

Ammel graduated from Hartford High School in the early 1970s and studied agriculture at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. He was a farmer for many years.

He also enjoyed gardening, outdoor activities, camping and living off the land, his daughter said.

“He was a loving father and husband that did everything for his family,” Curtis said.

Ammel is survived by his parents, his wife, his three children, his five grandchildren and several other loved ones. He and his wife, Jane, recently moved into a handcrafted post-and-beam home he helped build off Ammel Road, a short dead end street off Jericho Road.

Freezing rain caused treacherous road conditions throughout Vermont and New Hampshire during Tuesday morning’s commute.

Dozens of other accidents were reported in both states, including a two-car crash in Fairlee and several collisions or slide-offs on Route 110 in Chelsea.

A state Agency of Transportation truck driver, who was salting Route 110 at the time, suffered minor injuries when the truck slid off the edge of the road about a mile north of the village and rolled down an embankment.

Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak said as many as 10 vehicles were involved in crashes or slide-offs between Edwards Road and Upper Village Road in Chelsea between about 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Crews were forced to close that portion of roadway for several hours to clean up the crashes and treat the roads, he said.

Significant traffic backups and delays were reported throughout the Valley. The road conditions even prompted some Upper Valley schools to close.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.