Rt. 131 in Cavendish reopens as crash cleanup is completed

Pictured above and right below, fire department cold water rescue specialists work to bring driver Donald Darrah of New York off the overturned cab of the truck. Photo courtesy Proctorsville Fire Department

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Vermont Rt. 131 in Cavendish appears to be open to traffic again after being closed for nearly a day as emergency personnel worked to get a tractor trailer out of the Black River.

But while the closure no longer appears on New England 511 this morning, a Vermont State Police press release issued at 1:16 a.m. notes that “the roadway will be closed at varying times during the recovery.”  Then at 7 a.m., a VSP dispatcher in Westminster said to the best of her knowledge the road remained closed. Other sources say the roadway reopened late last night.

According to the VSP release, Donald Darrah, 77, of Lake Luzerne, N.Y., was traveling on Rt. 131 when he lost control of tractor trailer on a snow covered curve and plunged into the river.

Proctorsville Fire Chief Bob Glidden told The Telegraph that the truck was carrying 20 giant rolls of paper and that the load may have shifted causing the driver to lose control of the truck.

The Cavendish Fire Department was called out initially, then Proctorsville was called to the scene shortly after and firefighters found the driver – with some scratches – standing on top of the cab, which was laying on its passenger side in the river. West Weathersfield responded adding their cold water rescue personnel to those of Proctorsville to get the driver off the truck and out of the river. According to the VSP, Darrah was “slightly hypothermic.”

Glidden said that the driver was taken to Springfield Hospital for evaluation, then released. The Springfield Fire Department also responded adding a light truck to help recovery crews. S.G. Reed Truck Services, which specializes in heavy truck recovery, came to evaluate the situation, then ordered  the needed equipment, including a crane from Newport, N.H. Responders also had to deal with leaks of diesel fuel and motor oil from the wreckage.

The trailer was broken in the middle, according to Glidden, so what would mean that would mean that the heavy dry paper had to be off loaded – wet – from the river to make it possible to lift the trailer. And while the original plan was to shut down for the night and return in the morning to pull the tractor trailer out of the river, at 5:45 on Tuesday evening, Proctorsville Fire said that the tractor portion of the rig had been removed from the Black River and crews were working to remove the trailer.

Glidden said that Reed recovery workers decided: “We’re here, so let’s get it out of here.”

Proctorsville firefighters returned to their station early Tuesday evening, leaving Springfield Fire on scene with a light truck to help with the cleanup.

Also responding at various times during the day were the Agency of Transportation, Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont HAZMAT.


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  1. Phil Perlah says:

    And, who is paying for this cleanup? Is the driver being cited for unsafe driving?