From the Greenfield Recorder- December 27, 2017
HEATH — A young woman was taken to the hospital for a leg injury and possible hypothermia after the SUV she was driving veered off the road landing on its side, about 100 feet down an embankment on West Branch Road late Wednesday morning. About two dozen firefighters and paramedics were needed to rescue the woman after an alert passerby spotted tire tracks going off the road just before it turns into Adamsville Road.
A passerby discovered the vehicle, on its side, and found the trapped driver was conscious. The SUV had knocked down a narrow tree on its way down the embankment.
Colrain and Heath fire departments arrived, with Greenfield and Turners Falls to follow. Greenfield’s chief, Robert Strahan, led operations at the scene, while Turners Falls Fire Chief John Zellmann helped to lead the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team.
Bystanders told emergency personnel that the driver said she went off the road around 11 a.m. It was about two hours later that she was taken into the ambulance.
“This was a very difficult response,” Strahan said. “The roads are snowy and ice-covered, but the firefighters from Colrain and Heath did a wonderful job.”
Strahan also pointed to the efforts of the rescue team, which included several of its Franklin County members along with a few from Hampshire County. Emergency personnel first used a hydraulic extrication tool to get the woman, who was not identified, out of the vehicle. With ropes and pulleys, they were able to get her up onto the road in about an hour. Paramedics treated her for possible hypothermia.
Zellman said the operation went “rather smooth,” and it’s operations like these that were the reason emergency workers founded the now 80-person rescue team in 2014.
Massachusetts State Police is in charge of the formal investigation. Trooper Josh Lemay said speeding may have contributed to the crash.
A towing company from Erving was to lift the vehicle out of the embankment by mid to late afternoon, Zellman said.
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