WESTFORD — Two men were killed about 6:30 this morning in what one State Trooper called a 'horrific' accident after a Honda CRV veered from the southbound side of the highway into the northbound side and was broadsided by an oncoming 18-wheeler and then struck by a mini-van.
The crash killed one of the men, a 37-year-old passenger in the CRV, instantly, said Lt. Debra Simon, a Trooper who was at the scene of the accident. Attempts to revive the driver, whose age is not known, were ultimately unsuccessful, she said, although both men were taken to Lowell General Hospital.
The accident happened near Exit 32 in Westford.
One of the men was from Templeton and the other from Fitchburg.
Much of the highway was closed for nearly three hours, as commuters crawled by in the breakdown lane while state police and rescue workers tended to the victims.
The roadway was reopened as of about 10 a.m., Simon said, but traffic was still slow-moving.
Simon explained that as the CRV was headed southbound, it got into a collision with another car.
A witness who was on 495 at the time of the accident said the CRV was hit from behind by another car.
John FitzPatrick, who works in Boxborough, said in an email to The Eagle-Tribune that he saw a Chevy Malibu rear-end the CRV, which caused the driver to lose control and veer across all lanes of traffic before careening through the brush in the median strip and into the northbound lanes of 495.
There was no guardrail at that point in the highway, Simon said.
According to a State Police statement, as the CRV emerged onto 495 north, it hit an 18-wheeler and actually passed under the trailer portion of the truck, emerging on the other side where it was struck by another vehicle — a minivan — that was traveling in the center lane of Route 495 northbound. The Honda then rolled over before coming to rest in the median.
There wasn't much left of the CRV, Simon said.
"It was a horrific scene," she said.
Two other people came away with moderate injuries, she said, and were also transported to a local hospital. The truck driver was not injured.
Four vehicles, including the truck and the Malibu that was struck in the initial accident on the southbound side, were towed from the scene.
Due to the crash investigation all lanes of Route 495 North and the left lane of Route 495 South were closed for approximately three hours.
The accident brought traffic on the northbound side to a complete stop. One commuter said her morning commute, typically about 35 minutes, stretched to nearly 3 hours as a result of the accident. She said many people shut off their car engines and just sat in their cars or got out to stretch.
State Police have not determined a cause yet, Simon said, although there were several witnesses who were being interviewed this morning.
The crash remains under investigation by Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police, along with the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, the State Police Crime Scene Services Section and the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section. The Westford Police and Fire Departments, the Littleton Police and Fire Departments and the Massachusetts Highway Department assisted Troopers at the scene.
No charges had been filed as of Wednesday afternoon.