Weekend crashes claim 5 in state
Source: Union-News (Springfield, MA)
Author: PETER GOONAN
HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, MA – The three-day New Year’s weekend, which turned suddenly warm and wet Sunday, returned last night to the cold of the past month, leaving roadways icy.
Local and state highway departments, which were kept busy Saturday and Sunday with plowing and sanding, were forced to send sanding crews out again last night after daytime puddles and slush turned to ice.
At least five motor vehicle fatalities were reported in Massachusetts over the holiday weekend, including two in the western part of the state.
The number matched the state’s death toll for the holiday weekend one year ago.
In the aftermath of the coldest December on record, the temperature reached a high of 44 degrees yesterday morning, but then dropped steadily, said Scott Whittier, meteorologist for the National Weather Service at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.
The temperature was expected to drop into the teens tonight, Whittier said.
In the Berkshires, the temperature reached a high of 34 degrees yesterday morning, fell steadily through the day, and was expected to be in the mid-teens overnight, said John Hockridge, director of the New England Weather Associates in North Adams.
The change to colder temperatures was caused by a cold air system that came in from the north in the aftermath of the weekend storm system, Hockridge said.
Area police reported numerous accidents last night, many attributed to the icy conditions.
The forecast for today is for sunny and milder weather to return, with temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s, Whittier said.
Motor vehicle accidents over the holiday weekend included fatalities in Amherst and Goshen.
In Amherst, Jie Sun, of G28 North Village on the University of Massachusetts campus, was killed Sunday afternoon when the car in which she was a passenger collided with a pickup truck at Main and Salem streets. Her husband, Daming Shi, 42, who was driving, remained in critical condition last night at Baystate Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said. The driver of the truck was not reported injured.
In Goshen, an accident involving a pickup truck Saturday night resulted in the death of the driver, Robert P. Otis, 41, of Main Street, Ashfield, police said. The truck struck a tree at the bottom of a hill on Route 9, police said.
Traffic fatalities were also reported in Worcester, Burlington and Franklin.
The weekend also was marred by a rooming-house fire on Springfield Street in Chicopee which left 30 people homeless Sunday, and a Pittsfield house fire late Sunday.
Connecticut authorities were investigating a car-train collision Saturday in East Windsor that left a 64-year-old East Hartford man dead. An Amtrak official said the death was believed to be a suicide, as witnesses claim the victim, Donald E. Adams, drove across the barricaded crossing and put his car in the path of the train.
Residents across the Bay State rang in the new year and the new decade with celebrations including the traditional First Night folly in Boston.
Boston Police estimated about 250,000 people were on hand for the activities, despite drizzling rain.
Unseasonably warm temperatures melted ice sculptures on Boston Common – a favorite First Night exhibit – but there was plenty else to see and do, including American dances, Latin American music and fireworks over Boston Harbor at midnight.
Meanwhile, an estimated 50,000 people gathered for First Night events in Worcester.
Similar celebrations were held in New Bedford, Lawrence and Northampton, where police reported events went smoothly.
In Springfield, Lt. Richard Duffy said residents kept their partying low key. “It was quiet – just a normal night,” he said. “I know the weather would’ve kept me in.”
Yesterday, numerous area residents took advantage of the many retail stores which were open on the holiday under relaxed Blue Laws.