ANDOVER — Police said a 17-year-old Attleboro youth was lucky he didn't get himself or others killed after he lost control of his car yesterday on Interstate 495 South and swerved into the path of a tractor-trailer, which struck the car. The truck then rolled over.
The teenage-driver, his passenger and the truck driver escaped with serious, but non-life threatening injuries in a crash that brought rush hour traffic to a standstill.
Even as I-495 was gradually reopened, commuters were still feeling the effects of the crash for hours as they were detoured onto Interstate 93 and other area roads while state police investigated.
The crash occurred at 3:30 p.m. a quarter-mile past the Interstate 93 exits and 100 yards past the High Plain Road overpass on I-495 south.
A preliminary investigation by state Trooper Jeremy Sweeney determined the 1997 Chevrolet Geo Prism entered the southbound lane of I-495 from the exit ramp off Interstate 93 North.
Police said the young driver lost control of his car after moving into the second travel lane, then struck the guardrail and spun out of control and back into traffic, where he was hit by the truck.
After rolling over, the tractor-trailer came to rest on its left side, completely blocking two lanes of traffic.
Truck driver Varry Ramos, 33, of Worcester, was pinned inside his overturned cab that ended in a brook off the highway shoulder. Andover firefighters used a hydraulic device to free him from the wreckage.
A medical helicopter landed on the highway and shuttled Ramos to Beth Israel Deaconness Hospital in Boston. A hospital spokeswoman reported Ramos to be in fair condition late last night.
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old Prizm driver and his 47-year-old male passenger, both Attleboro residents, were taken by ambulance to Lawrence General Hospital. The mangled car they were riding in was carried away on a flatbed truck.
State police identified the passenger as Larry Armstrong, but declined to release the identity of the driver.
A nursing supervisor at Lawrence General Hospital would not release any information about the passenger's condition.
Some eggs appeared to be stowed in the overturned trailer.
At first, troopers completely closed down the southbound side of I-495, but gradually reopened the road lane by lane to ease rush-hour traffic.
"The facts and circumstances of this crash remain under investigation," state police said in a press release last night, adding that the probe was being conducted by the State Police Troop A barracks in Andover, assisted by the State Police Crime Scene Services Section, the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section and the State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section.
It was unclear if speed, alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash. No charges had been filed.
Dozens of onlookers gathered over the highway on the High Plain Road overpass to witness the accident aftermath.
Crews from Coady's Towing in Lawrence used two, specially equipped recovery trucks to right the overturned tractor-trailer and remove it from the highway.
The Department of Environmental Protection was notified after approximately 150 gallons of diesel fuel spilled on the highway, state police said.
MassHighway workers also responded, bringing lighted signs to direct drivers around the crash scene.