EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 22, 2012

Deadly crash on I-495

One driver dies, one clings to life after car crosses median

METHUEN – A head-on collision on Interstate 495 South involving a car that flew across the median into oncoming traffic killed one the drivers and left the other clinging to life.

Kurt Kelly, 32, of Westford, died in the wreckage of his blue 2008 Toyota Camry after it was struck by a black 2005 Toyota Corolla, which left the northbound lane of the highway, hit a dirt median and went airborne into Kelly’s path, according to state Trooper Michael Cogan of the Andover barracks.

Jeffrey Plante, 35, of Newburyport, the driver of the Corolla, suffered life-threatening injuries and was flown by medical helicopter to Boston Medical Center and was undergoing surgery, police said. No information was available on his condition late last night.

Kelly and Plante were the only two casualties of the four-car crash, which occurred about 3:30 p.m., just south of the Route 113 bridge over 495.

Two other vehicles were damaged in the crash, but their drivers weren’t injured and didn’t contribute to the initial crash, according to police. While the cause has not been determined, authorities said alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

A Kohl’s tractor-trailer stopped just short of a demolished car, but was not involved in the crash, despite initial media reports. The driver of the rig, owned by NFI Transportation, was interviewed by state police for witness information.

The crash brought traffic to a standstill on I-495 for several hours into the evening rush, while also causing massive traffic jams on secondary roads in area communities as police were diverting traffic around the crash scene.

The north and southbound sides of I-495 were closed for about 45 minutes to allow the medical helicopter to land and take off. The southbound side remained closed for about 3 1/2 hours to allow for rescue operations, gathering of evidence and clean up of the scene. Traffic was rerouted off the highway at Route 110 in Lawrence and caused a nightmare for commuter traffic.

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