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Single Car Accident Causes Road Closure in Williamstown

Staff Reports
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Traffic was snarled for about a half-hour Wednesday afternoon by a one-car accident on Simonds Road that saw one person taken away by ambulance.
 
A little after noon, a car southbound on U.S. Route 7 lost control, striking and severing a utility pole on the west side of the road, according to Williamstown Police.
 
The car, which sustained severe front-end damage, ended up across the road and perpendicular to the flow of traffic.
 
Police confirmed that there were two occupants of the vehicle, including the driver. One occupant, whose name was not available, was transported from the scene by Northern Berkshire EMS. The individual appeared to be conscious and alert.
 
Ron's Auto Repair of Main Street removed the vehicle from the scene, and with National Grid personnel on scene, police were able to restore traffic in a single lane by just before 1 p.m.
 
At about 2:15, National Grid killed power to the neighborhood while it conducted repairs to the line. Power was restored about at about 4:45.
 
The utility pole involved was replaced in the spring after an accident that damaged the previous pole at the spot.
 
Police said Wednesday's accident is under investigation.
 
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Williamstown Woman Killed in Pownal Crash

Updated at 3:41 p.m. POWNAL, Vt. — A Williamstown, Mass., woman was killed Friday morning after her sport utility vehicle was totaled in a three-car accident on Route 7. 
 
Kristie M. Kuziel, 54, was taken by medical helicopter to Albany, N.Y., Medical Center, where she later died. 
 
According to state police, a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe operated by Kuziel was northbound on Route 7 when her vehicle crossed into the left lane in Center Pownal and collided head-on with a southbound 2013 Honda CRV. The energy from the collision forced the Honda into the rear-end of 2016 Ford E45 transit van, which was parked on the southbound shoulder of the roadway. 
 
State troopers responded the report of the crash with a trapped occupant in the Hyundai at about 8:52 a.m. The Pownal Fire Department and Bennington Rescue Squad also responded. 
 
According to State Trooper Shawn Sommers, Kuziel, who was not wearing a seat belt, sustained internal injuries and a broken leg and was flown by medical helicopter to Albany Medical Center. The driver of the Honda, Emma G. Mattison, 26, of Pownal sustained less-serious injuries and was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center by the Bennington Rescue Squad. 
 
No one was in the van. All three vehicles are considered totaled. The highway was closed for 2 1/2 hours and motorists detoured down Center Street. The road reopened around 11:30.
 
No further information was being released at this time.
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Williamstown Accident Takes Down Utility Pole

Staff Reports

What appear to be skid marks are visible on the sidewalk west of the downed utility pole.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Traffic on Main Street (Route 2) was slowed mid-afternoon Wednesday as authorities cleaned up from a single-vehicle accident near the Spruces park.
 
An eastbound black Ford pickup appeared to cross through the westbound lane and collide with a utility pole.
 
First responders on the scene reported that the driver of the vehicle was not transported by the ambulance that responded to the accident.
 
The collision with utility pole damaged one nearby home by pulling the lines from the side of the house. There were no reports of outages in the vicinity.
 
The accident was reported at about 2:30 p.m. and cleared up about an hour later.
 
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Woman Found Not Guilty in Williamstown Hit-and-Run

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Williamstown woman was found not guilty on Wednesday of leaving the scene of a hit-and-run that has left a local woman in a coma for two years. 
 
But she and her husband were both found guilty of misleading police in the days following the incident that seriously injured Cheryl J. LeClaire, 54, of White Oaks Road in Williamstown. They were found not guilty of conspiracy to mislead. 
 
A Superior Court jury deliberated for eight hours before returning the verdicts in the cases against Sally J. Gould, 73, the driver in the incident, and her husband, John T. Gould, 71.
 
LeClaire was walking her dog on the evening of Feb. 9, 2016, along North Hoosac Road in Williamstown. A passing motorist found her lying in the road, unresponsive, at about 6:30 p.m. She was taken to Berkshire Medical Center with severe head trauma. Her dog was unharmed. 
 
Police investigators believed that LeClaire had been struck or brushed by a passing vehicle but there was little physical evidence at the scene and no witnesses. Some automotive materials led police to look for a Honda CRV with front-end damage.
 
The Goulds were arrested two weeks later and charged with misleading police in their investigation and conspiracy to mislead a police officer. Sally Gould was also charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. 
 
The charges were based on actions taken by the Goulds to repair their 2014 Honda CRV, including replacing a windshield. Defensive attorneys argued that the sport utility vehicle being parked outside during this time and John Gould's willingness to speak to police showed there was no attempt to cover anything up. However, authorities said the Goulds gave inconsistent statements and told them the damage had occurred in a parking lot collision.
 
Judge John Agostini released both Goulds on personal recognizance pending sentencing on March 26 at 2 p.m.
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Pellet Stove Sparks Fire at Readsboro Inn

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

A firefighter uses a ladder to reach the third floor. 
READSBORO, Vt. — The historic Readsboro Inn was spared from catastrophe in the wee hours of Tuesday when a quick thinking tenant and teams of firefighters were able to snuff out a pellet stove fire on its top floor. 
 
"The fire blew through the side of the building, it ran up the roof rafters and down the other side and through the whole attic," said Fire Chief Adam Codogni.
 
The fire was seen before 2:30 a.m. when a guest went outside to have a cigarette and noticed smoke coming through top of the three-story building. A tenant grabbed an extinguisher and was able to contain the stove blaze, but the fire had worked its way behind the walls and up into the attic.
 
BJ Gamache, who has an apartment in the building, said later that it was a guest at the inn who went outside around 2 and saw the smoke, then began banging on apartment doors to wake everyone. 
 
Gamache said he called 911 and the owners, then grabbed fire extinguishers. 
 
"So I climbed out the window on the third floor onto a ladder that is attached to the building and started spraying the fire flames with the fire extinguishers from outside," he wrote on a Facebook post on the story. "I used five of them to get flames out that I could see before the Fire Department made it here. I had to keep running downstairs to grab more of them."
 
The guest remained with him to help out while Gamache battled the blaze.
 
"To be honest it all happened so fast and the only thing I was thinking was not letting Marcia [Evans] and Vince [Guest], the owners, lose their building," he said. "My place to live and my job."
 
Codogni and the first crew of firefighters arrived with minutes and the decision was made to start pulling down the interior walls to get to the fire.
 
"We were lucky to have a good crew tonight just to get that initial attack," the chief said. "We had interior firefighters to get up there and hit it. 
 
"If it was really roaring, we would have been in big trouble."
 
A second alarm was called at 2:30 a.m. and mutual aid had begun to pour in from the surrounding communities: Monroe, Halifax, Stamford and Whitingham arrived, as well as Massachusetts companies from Charlemont, Clarksburg, Colrain, Heath and Rowe. North Adams sent its ladder truck and North Adams Ambulance Service sent an ambulance and its rehab trailer.
 
The conditions were poor as snow had been falling for a couple hours by the time the fire was reported and the roads to the mountain town were getting slick. The Florida Fire Department had also tried to send a truck but it reportedly went off the road.
 
The inn dates back to the late 19th century and hosted a number of businesses until being turned into an inn and popular restaurant in the 1930s. The original structure is connected to a much larger later building that holds a tavern. The property is currently on the market and is listed as having four apartments and seven inn rooms. 
 
Not all the rooms were occupied and everyone was safely evacuated. 
 
It took about two hours to contain the fire. The third floor was damaged by fire and the efforts to contain it and the second floor has some water damage. The first floor, which has the restaurant, appeared to have escaped any damage.
 
Owner Marcia Evans said there was no one in the apartment with the pellet stove. The stoves have been running because of the cold and prior problems with pipes freezing. 
 
"The bar is OK. I don't know if there'll be power to the restaurant but I'm planning to go forward with it," she said. 
 
Efforts were being made to get the power back on to the newer builder and it was believed at least the restaurant in the inn could be powered up. Green Mountain Power had disconnected the electricity. 
 
The inn is a landmark on the town's main street, which is also Route 100. In addition to the attached structure, there's a house directly across a small avenue and a house behind it. 
 
"Anything to do with this building could turn out bad, especially with the amount of people living in it," Codogni said, adding he was thankful for the turnout by mutual aid. "This is a tough night to get everybody together."
 
It was almost 4:30 when the scene began to clear. 
 
"I love the Readsboro Fire Department, they were right on it," she said. "Right on it."
 
Updated on March 13 to clarify who first reacted to the fire.
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