PHOTOS: Camper full of pets ripped open on Interstate 91
UPDATED: Passenger in RV and truck driver were both hurt
ROCKINGHAM - Six dogs, three cats and two birds got out unscathed Monday after the back end of the large camper they were riding in was ripped completely off in a collision with a tractor-trailer; however, a passenger who was asleep on a bed right in the rear of the recreational vehicle sustained a serious back injury.
The 2:30 p.m. mishap caused traffic backups that stretched for miles in the southbound lanes of Interstate 91 near Bellows Falls until the wreckage was finally cleared away and I-91 was reopened to normal traffic shortly after 8 p.m.
Vermont State Police Corporal Brian Turner reported that the crash occurred as southbound traffic on the interstate was beginning to slow down and merge into the right lane ahead of a large bridge construction project.
Albert Milite III, 50, of East Patchogue, New York was driving the 1995 Ford Jamboree RV when a vehicle ahead of him abruptly applied their brakes, causing Milite to veer into the left lane to avoid a collision, Corporal Turner reported.
Bernard Avery, 29, of Barre, Vermont, who was driving the Kenworth tractor trailer immediately behind the camper responded by applying his brakes and steering towards the breakdown lane on the righthand side of the highway in an attempt to avoid a collision but he caught the tail end of the camper and tore it open, scattering debris across both lanes.
The 18-wheeler sustained extensive damage to the right side of the tractor and continued off the right side of the highway into a ditch. Avery was transported to Springfield Hospital with what were described as back injuries and "general soreness."
Jose Pagan, 38, the injured passenger who had been asleep in the back end of the camper was left exposed to the elements but a trooper and an off-duty volunteer fireman who'd been in nearby traffic were able to get inside the RV and clear debris off of Pagan and keep him immobilized until an ambulance crew was able to get there and transport him to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
Milite and another passenger who had been inside the camper were not injured and none of the pets that were inside were hurt either.
Vermont State Police set up survey equipment to help map and reconstruct the crash
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