56 Crashes—& Counting

Paul Bass Photos(Updated) Police Monday responded to 44 traffic accidents by 4 p.m. and were headed out to handle 12 more, thanks to continuing street problems connected to last week’s storm.

Snowbanks blinded drivers around town, such as a woman who ended up stumbling out of her smashed Dodge Stratus and collapsing on Dixwell Avenue.

As many as five or six accidents were reported at a time Monday afternoon in the upper Whalley/Amity area. Traffic was reported gridlocked or near-gridlocked at times along Chapel Street and the Boulevard.

Police spokesman Joe Avery said icy conditions were to blame for many of the fender-benders and other accidents. He said none involved fatal injuries.

Two people did go to the hospital by ambulance and traffic ground to periodic halts for a half hour after a 9:15 a.m. crash at Dixwell and Webster.

It started when roofer Tim Schwink pulled up to the light in his 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 on the southern corner of the intersection, on Webster. He was on his way to do an estimate.

A bus driver was preparing to turn right onto Webster. He couldn’t squeeze between the snow and Schwink’s truck. So he started waving.

“He stopped to let me cross,” Scwhink, who’s 29 and from Meriden, said later at the scene. Or at least he thought the driver wanted him to cross.

So Schwink pulled forward into the intersection.

Just then a woman was driving the Dodge Stratus into the same intersection from behind the bus. She apparently couldn’t see much in the crowded street, Schwink said. She smashed right into his truck.

After the impact, Schwink pulled through the intersection to the north side of Webster. He said he went to talk to the woman, to advise her to stay in the car until help came.

Cars were already backed up at the intersection as police arrived. Alderman Greg Morehead happened to be in one of those cars. He was trying to get his son to school at Mauro-Sheridan.

“I saw [the female driver] walking out of her car. You could tell she was disoriented,” Morehad said. “She collapsed on the ground” in the street.

Meanwhile, her car rolled through the intersection and into Schwink’s truck again.

Police helped the woman. An ambulance came. She went to the hospital.

Schwink remained at the scene for a half hour. He winced in pain, he said, from his shoulder. He said he had talked to the bus driver after the crash. At that point, he said, the driver was claiming that he had been “waving me to the right, not across. That was his story. I went to the right [at first], but he still couldn’t get across.” (The driver was no longer at the scene at that point.)

An officer at the scene called the woman’s injuries non-life-threatening. Officer Avery said it could be a while today until a report is filed and the department can release her name, because cops were so busy chasing after accidents.

Officer Stephanie Van Wilgen, meanwhile, wrestled with the ensuing traffic chaos at Webster and Dixwell, where snow and ice had already circumscribed what’s already a tight and busy intersection.

At times she was able to wave traffic through in each direction. Then another bus driver stopped at the light heading northwest on Dixwell. He couldn’t move, he said. Another back-up. A few minutes later he was able to move.

Then a Catapano’s tow truck arrived, stopping all traffic so it can remove the Stratus.

Finally an ambulance arrived for Schwink.

Crime Map

Police got reports of 10 car thefts, eight robberies and two shootings over the weekend, in addition to the homicides on Front Street.

Click here for a list of emergency calls for major incidents over the weekend. Click on the image below to see those crimes placed on a city-wide map.

For block-by-block year-to-date crime info, and daily crime maps, check the Independent’s crime log.

Post a Comment

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posted by: The Count on January 31, 2011  12:56pm

Naw, it ain’t the snow; Connecticut has lotsa rotten drivers.

posted by: Moti Sandman on January 31, 2011  2:17pm

I was out west this past month and I was amazed that every one came to a complete and full stop at each Stop sign! It took me a bit to get used to.
Yes we do have bad driving habits here in CT

posted by: anon on January 31, 2011  4:21pm

Drivers don’t pay for even a fraction of the total cost of all of these police investigations, many of which involve suburban drivers. 

Meanwhile, the majority of the city’s population, which does not drive to work every day, is forced to deal with underfunded bus systems, and nonexistent walking and cycling routes.  The money we spent on snow removal for suburban drivers could easily have paid to install sidewalks in Quinnipiac Meadows, where there are none, despite the neighborhood’s repeated requests. 

While our police department is busy chasing down (and spending money on) dozens of crashes, there is a group of dozens of people on the Green waiting for buses that are more than an hour late.

It’s time to raise DMV fees.  Funnel that money into covering the costs of local police departments and improving alternatives to driving.

posted by: to anon on January 31, 2011  5:12pm

good plan.. if you live in the suburbs. but dmv fees? go to fair haven and tell me how many people there actually register their vehicles, have licenses, and pay “fees” of any kind…. never mind ever seen a DMV

posted by: Sue-em, Grabbit & Run on January 31, 2011  10:16pm

If you have had an accident and you think its because the city has not cleared its roads of snow please contact an attorney immediately. You could be entitled to significant compensation.