PHOTOS: Chain reaction crashes slow I-91 northbound in Hartland
Three cars and two tractor-trailers in three related crashes
NORTH HARTLAND - What were actually three separate-but-related crashes that occurred within moments of each other Sunday morning snarled the northbound lanes of Interstate 91 right before the highway bridge that spans the Ottauquechee River where it runs between the Hartland Dam and the twin covered bridges in North Hartland.
A red Hyundai Veloster with Massachusetts plates appeared to have slid across the travel lane at approximately 9:30 a.m. during rainy, wet conditions on the highway and collided violently with the guard rail right before the bridge, bowing the guardrails out several feet and scattering a large amount of debris across both northbound lanes.
Hartland volunteer firefighters Jason Berry and Zach Wood helped get the highway moving again
As a result, the traffic coming up behind began to brake hard and then two separate two-vehicle crashes occurred simultaneously.
A blue 2005 Hyundai Sonata driven by Antonio Mantello, 20, of Cavendish, a makeup artist who was on his way to work in West Lebanon, tried to slow down but began to hydroplane across the interstate where he struck the back of a dark gray 2007 Subaru Legacy driven by Sean O'Brien, 46, of Quechee.
Both men were wearing their seat belts and neither was hurt but Mantello's car sustained heavy damage to its front end while O'Brien was eventually able to drive his car away from the scene.
Antonio Mantello makes a phone call from the midst of the chaos at Mile Marker 66.2
"Traffic was stopped and I saw that so I tried to slow down," Mantello recalled at the scene, "But when I hit my brake it wasn't doing anything so I tried to turn out of the way because I didn't want to hit the car in front of me but I ended up just sliding into the car that was in front of me. Once I hit that one, I saw this tractor-trailer truck coming up beside me and that's when he hit (the other truck). I was basically underneath him. He was so close I'm surprised he didn't take out my mirror."
Although both cars were traveling at an estimated 40 mph at the time of the crash, Vermont State Police Corporal Mark Harvey said that Mantello was issued a written warning for driving too fast for conditions at the time.
The drivers of the two tractors-trailers that collided with each other were also wearing their seat belts and also managed, despite significant damage to both trucks, to walk away unharmed.
One of the trucks was an 18-wheeler box truck carrying mail up to White River Junction and it struck the rear of an 18-wheel milk tanker truck from North Troy, Vermont causing minor amounts of diesel full to spill from both vehicles.
The collision left a slick of iridescent diesel fuel down the travel lane of the interstate
Vermont State Police Sgt. Eric Hudson stands near some of the absorbent spill pads put down by firefighters
Although the scene was spread out around a large curve, traffic was largely uninterrupted Sunday morning
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