By Dee DeQuattro, WPRO News
The first weekend of December marked a tough weekend for state and local police on the roads.
On Saturday evening at 7 p.m. a major accident on the Mount Hope Bridge left one dead and five others hospitalized. Then, early on Sunday morning another accident resulted in three DUI arrests and a state trooper being struck by a vehicle.
“A vehicle, around 7 P.M. Saturday, was traveling sound bound on Mt. Hope Bridge when I crossed into the opposite lane of travel,” State Police Lt. Eric Lariviere told the WPRO Morning News with Tara Granahan and Andrew Gobeil. The State Police have ruled out alcohol as cause of the accident and believe it may have been a result of an ongoing medical condition that one of the drivers suffered.
The vehicle, a GMC Savannah van driven by 63-year-old Paul Matthews of Barrington crossed over to the opposite lane of travel and struck a Toyota RAV 4 operated by 65-year-old John Kelchner. Lariviere was not wearing a seatbelt and was partially ejected from his vehicle. “No one could say if he would have survived it if he had been wearing a seatbelt,” said Lariviere. “We do know if he stayed inside the vehicle there is a greater likelihood that he would survive the crash.”
Matthews was pronounced dead on scene but his passenger 49-year-old Lenor Andrade of Warren survived and was treated at Rhode Island Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
According to police Andrade and the passengers of Kelchner’s vehicle were wearing their seat belts during the crash. Aside from Matthews, all involved in the accident all sustained non-life threatening injuries and were treated at area hospitals.
On Sunday a woman struck a utility pole with her SUV at about 1 a.m. in the morning in East Providence. Police say the woman dozed off while driving and as a result crashed her vehicle near Chelo’s restaurant. Lariviere said drowsy drivers are a huge concern for police, recommending that drivers stay off the roadways if they feel drowsy.
The driver and her two passengers, including her child, sustained minor injuries and no charges are expected.
While police responded to this crash they also made three DUI arrests. The first being 22-year-old Bailey Hardy of North Smithfield who was driving with a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit. When Hardy approached the accident scene, she did not slow down but instead hit a police cruiser that was parked, jumped a curb and hit a pole.
Another driver, 48-year-old David Brewer from Pennsylvania, was attempting to avoid the crash site and got lost as he was navigating a path around the accident. After he got lost Brewer got in a loud fight with his passengers, which was loud enough to cause the police to be called.
The third DUI in the night resulted when a driver struck an on-duty officer who was directing traffic. The officer was uninjured but the collision resulted in the driver, 31-year-old Joseph Anthony of East Providence, to be charged with DUI.
Lariviere described the weekend arrests as frustrating and noted if anyone observes someone driving and suspects they may be a danger on the road they should call *77 or 911. He said that drivers should not attempt to keep up with or follow erratic drivers.