Investigator Seeks Cause of Fatal Route 9 Crash

Source: Union-News (Springfield, MA)


WILLIAMSBURG, MA – A state police investigator said yesterday authorities may never determine what caused an automobile accident on Route 9 Monday night that killed a 23-year-old Cummington woman when her car careened out of control and slammed into a tree.

Cassandra L. Affhauser of 184 W. Main St. was pronounced dead at the scene by Associate Medical Examiner Eugene Beauchamp. The accident took place less than a half-mile east of the Goshen line.

Affhauser was married last November and her husband, Karl Affhauser, happened upon the scene minutes after the accident occurred at 8:50 p.m., according to authorities.

The victim was alone in the car.

State Trooper Bruce Johnson, who is investigating the accident, spent yesterday re-creating the accident with a sophisticated model to determine the speed of the vehicle and other factors that might have caused the accident.

Johnson said he was also looking into the possibility that Affhauser swerved to avoid something in the road.

An autopsy performed yesterday showed the cause of death was multiple trauma. Toxicology results from the autopsy will not be available for several weeks, according to a spokesman in the state medical examiner’s office.

The accident was the second in less than 14 months at the same spot. On Feb. 3, 1989, Gabriela M. Graham of Goshen was killed when she lost control of her car on the curve there. Her car left the road and struck a tree near the one Affhauser hit.

Superintendent of Streets and Fire Chief Roger Bisbee, who was at the scene Monday night, estimated the trees are no more than 25 feet apart.

In both accidents, the cars were traveling eastbound and crossed over the westbound lane before going into a wooded section. But the similarity ends there, Johnson said.

“There were substantially different circumstances,” he said.

In Graham’s case, the road was covered with ice, a fact that contributed heavily to that accident. The road was dry Monday night and Affhauser’s car was traveling 59 miles an hour, or 14 miles over the posted speed limit, according to the accident recreation model, Johnson said.

Johnson said Affhauser’s car left tire marks called “yaw marks” in the road indicating it was turning and skidding at the same time she was attempting to negotiate the curve. There were also marks on the right side of the eastbound lane which indicated she may have hit the side of the road and overcompensated, causing her to lose control of her vehicle, said Johnson.

Kenneth Walden, owner of the Whale Inn in Goshen, said yesterday that Affhauser was having dinner with a friend at his restaurant Monday night. Walden said he had heard that her husband had called her at the restaurant from Martino’s Restaurant in Williamsburg, and Affhauser was going to meet him when the crash occurred. Johnson confirmed the story.

Johnson said Affhauser had lost her job Monday, but he said he did not know where the woman worked.

The Feb. 3, 1989, accident caused the state Department of Public Works to embark on a drainage project along that stretch of Route 9 last summer.

Ditches were widened and deepened and metal-meshed baskets were installed along 900 feet of rock ledge in an effort to keep the road from freezing over.

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