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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Two Teens Injured In Early Morning Wreck

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Two Bennington County teens were injured during a March 29 crash that also damaged this 1999 Chevy Blazer.
Pownal, Vt. - Two Bennington County youth sustained serious injuries during an early morning March 29 crash after a 16-year-old driver lost control of a green 1999 Chevy Blazer on Route 7 in Pownal. The Blazer careened back and forth across the north and south bound traffic lanes for about 300 yards, finally striking and splitting a telephone pole before coming to a stop, according to emergency responders at the crash scene.

John Austin, 16, of Bennington, and a passenger, 18-year-old Tanner Church of Pownal, were ejected from the vehicle during the crash, according to emergency responders who were called to the scene. One youth was found on the western side of the roadway while the other was discovered lying on the road's eastern edge.

Austin and Church were the only occupants of the vehicle, according to police.

Alcohol and excessive speed were factors involved in the crash, according to Vermont State Police. Trooper Jesse Robson and Sgt. Brian Turner are investigating the accident. Criminal charges are pending, police said.


CVPS and Verizon company workers worked to replace a utility pole damaged during a March 29 early morning crash. John Austin, 16, and Tanner Church, 18, were injured during accident.
Police said that they were able to determine that Austin and Church had been drinking alcoholic beverages before the crash. Austin and Church were given emergency medical assistance at the scene. Church was transported to the Southern Vermont Medical Center and Austin was taken by Lifeflight helicopter to another medical facility, police said. No further information about their medical conditions was available as of late morning on March 29.

Pownal Rescue Squad and Bennington Rescue Squad personnel were at the the accident scene.

Witnesses to the crash included a truck driver, who reported that the southbound Blazer passed his vehicle near the Bennington Motor Car sales lot on Route 7 traveling at a high rate of speed, according to an emergency responder who was at the crash scene.

According to witness reports, the vehicle struck an embankment near Searles Cross Road, which is south of the International Herb shop, flipped over and then slid on its' roof before striking the utility pole.

The crash was initially reported as being on the Bennington-Pownal town line, and Bennington Rural Volunteer Fire Department members were called to the scene. The Bennington Rural response was cancelled and Pownal Valley and Pownal Fire Protective Association volunteer firefighters were called to the scene once the accident location was established, according to fire department members.

Prior to the call cancellation, two Bennington Rural fire department firefighters arrived at the scene and provided assistance, said Pownal Valley Assistant Fire Chief Joel Howard.

"We all worked very well together," he said.

Pownal firefighters washed vehicle fluids from the roadway. Because the early morning temperatures were below freezing and the wet road surface was becoming icy, Pownal Highway Commissioner Casey Mattison was called to put sand down on the road, Howard said.

State police offered praise to Bennington Police Department officers who were at the crash scene, and cited department members for providing "crucial assistance during the entire investigation."

Route 7 was closed to both lanes of traffic from Pine Tree Hill to Mount Anthony Road from shortly after 3 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. while accident debris was cleared from the roadway, Howard said. Vehicle traffic was re-routed along alternate routes, including Jackson Cross Road, Middle Pownal Road, and Strohmaier Road. School busses were either delayed or traveled alternate routes.

The Blazer was towed from the scene by the Center Street Auto towing service.
Central Vermont Public Services and Verizon workers were at the scene during the morning replacing the damaged utility pole. Bennington County Sheriff's Department deputy sheriffs provided traffic control as repairs progressed.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or 802-823-9367.
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