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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJanuary 16 - January 22, 2019

Piled Up in Massachusetts

4-Piled Up-TIW-5 f571aby Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

On Jan. 20, 2018, one person was killed and three others injured in a six-car pileup on Interstate 91 northbound in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. A 2014 Peterbilt tractor-trailer struck the rear of a 2017 Freightliner tractor-trailer, which had slowed due to construction. The Peterbilt driver continued northbound hitting several other vehicles that were also traveling slowly.

The Peterbilt tractor-trailer then crashed through a guardrail before stopping in the median. Boxes of shampoo were strewn across the highway when the trailer split open in the crash, covering the highway with about 300 yards of debris.

Most of the six vehicles were badly damaged in the crash and Interstate Towing in Chicopee was called to clear the mess.

"Our first call came into respond at 7:47a.m.," said Interstate owner Jeremy Procon. "The Massachusetts State Police requested our immediate response with a possible entrapment.

"We responded with a myriad of vehicles, but the primary responding units were Unit 810, 2012 Kenworth/Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator; Unit 822, 2016 Kenworth/Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator; Unit 826, 2016 Kenworth/35-ton Jerr-Dan with SRS support units; flatbed carriers, roll-off containers and a street sweeper," he said.

"Dan Heroux, operator number 95, quickly assessed the scene and stated that we needed to 'step it up' since one of the tractor-trailer units was on a 20-degree angle and fire rescue was concerned about stability," Procon said.

Procon was second to reach the scene in one of his service trucks and assisted Brian McNally with the Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator.

"We were quick to learn that this was subsequently a fatality and the operator of the tractor-trailer unit in the ditch had passed," Procon said. "We immediately secured the area of any potential dangers along with Longmeadow Fire for further investigation by the Massachusetts State Police (Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Section) Unit as well as the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement unit."

Jeremy, Jeffrey Procon, McNally and Randy Purinton began to focus on the recovery aspect. They initially removed all the passenger vehicles from the scene and had them transported to Interstate's location in Chicopee for inside storage for further investigation.

With the Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator, they rigged the rear doors of the tractor-trailer unit that was struck from behind, while they used their K12 cut saw to help secure loose parts. They towed that back to Chicopee for further inspection and investigation.

"Once we secured those vehicles," Jeremy said, "we then focused on the severely damaged tractor-trailer unit loaded with approximately 40,000 pounds of shampoo bottles. We were faced with shampoo all over the highway, making it very slippery. MassDOT was able to dispatch a sander to spread a heavy layer of sand on the highway so we didn't sustain any worker injuries.

"Once the medical examiner was finished removing the deceased, we began to rig the entire unit for recovery."

It was decided to pull the tractor-trailer out as a whole unit with one of the rotators while the other rotator held the tractor-trailer from tipping over. They secured as much product as they could on their 53' trailer, and all debris that was unsalvageable was placed into a roll-off dumpster and dump trailer for disposal.

Interstate employee Shawn Pierce removed shampoo bottles and other debris from a manhole. During the crash, the cover of the manhole flew off and debris had to be removed to prevent it from flowing into the Connecticut River.

CJ's Towing Unlimited of Springfield supplied a street sweeper to assist in the cleanup.

"Once secured, we used our Jerr-Dan headsets to communicate the recovery," Jeremy said. "We had spotters at every angle while we slowly pulled the entire unit back onto the highway. We then secured and crash-wrapped the [tractor-trailer] unit for transport to Yard 1 for further inspection and investigation.

"Our recovery team remained on scene doing additional clean up and street sweeping. All units returned and we restocked all support vehicles for the next recovery," he said.

Editor's Note: Look for the full in-depth story in the March issue of American Towman Magazine.

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Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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