ANDOVER — A man whose legs were pinned under the tires of a tractor-trailer on Interstate-495 South yesterday morning was one of five people hospitalized for injuries as a result of the 6:08 a.m. accident.
Traffic on I-495 South came to a standstill as a result of the accident, which occurred south of Exit 41/Route 28 but before the Interstate-93 interchange. State Police were forced to close the highway for about 90 minutes while rescue workers extricated the victim from under the truck and towed the damaged vehicles from the scene.
State Trooper John Ragosa, who is investigating the accident under the command of Major Arthur Sugrue, said it was an “accordion” or chain-reaction type of accident that pushed one vehicle into the next one ahead of it.
Ragosa said in a preliminary report that the tractor-trailer was traveling south when, for reasons still under investigation, crashed into the back of a work van. The van’s male passenger was ejected from the van and onto the roadway.
He was then run over by the tractor-trailer and became trapped when the truck came to rest on top of his legs. Ragosa said the victim was conscious and alert during the ordeal, but sustained serious injuries.
“I was talking to him,” Ragosa said, adding that the tires ran over the lower parts of the man’s legs.
The Andover Fire Department used high-pressure airbags to lift the vehicle off the victim, according to Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield.
Of the five people taken to area hospitals, two were taken to Holy Family in Methuen and three were taken to Lawrence General Hospital. The other victims were treated for back and neck injuries and facial lacerations. One person was released shortly after the incident.
The identities of the victims were not available last night.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation responded with traffic signs and street sweepers to clean up debris strewn across the roadway. The road was temporarily closed southbound with the assistance of the Andover and Lawrence Police Departments. All traffic was diverted onto Route 28 southbound for approximately an hour and a half. The road was reopened around 7:30 a.m.