Kent woman dies, man injured in New Milford crash that sent dump truck into Housatonic River
NEW MILFORD — Police Tuesday were investigating the cause of the morning crash on Route 7 that left a woman dead, a man injured and a truck partially submerged in the Housatonic River.
The crash killed Christina Walters, 24, of Kent, and injured Jeff Griener, 59, of Poughquag, N.Y., police said. Griener’s injuries are not considered life-threatening, police said.
The accident occurred around 9 a.m. when a car and a dump truck collided near the intersection of Kent and Cedar Hill roads, sending the truck down an embankment into the river.
New Milford firefighters, police and one ambulance were among the first to respond. Kent Volunteer Fire Department was requested soon after for water rescue, and a second ambulance was dispatched.
Walters, the driver of the sedan, was killed, and Griener, who drove the dump truck, was transported to Danbury Hospital, New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash said. The drivers were the only people in the vehicles, Ash said.
Ash did not know the extent of the truck driver’s injuries, but said he was conscious and alert before being taken to the hospital. He escaped the vehicle while it was in the water and waded to shore, Ash said.
Police are still looking into how the two vehicles crashed.
“Until we get a little deeper into the investigation, there really isn’t much to release right now,” Ash said.
First responders were met by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which was called because fuel from the truck was spilling into the river, Ash said.
Fire department, police and DEEP officials remained on scene hours after the crash, and drivers were urged to stay away from the area.
The crash closed a section of Route 7 for more than seven hours Tuesday, with officers detouring traffic.
Motor vehicle accidents aren’t new to this section of Route 7.
Just last month, emergency personnel responded to a head-on collision at the Kent and Cedar Hill roads intersection, where firefighters took about 15 minutes to extricate an injured person from a vehicle.
In 2016, 28-year-old Stephanie Tozzi died after her Nissan Sentra went off Kent Road, striking a tree near the Squash Hollow Road intersection. Her 4-year-old daughter was in the car at the time and was seriously injured. Tozzi was the daughter of a New Milford police officer.
Mayor Pete Bass said the town’s Public Works Department staff has reached out to the state Department of Transportation for the crash history on that stretch of road.
“I want to see the history,” he said.
The town can ask the state to make improvements to the area but since it’s a state road, those decisions will ultimately be up to the DOT. That section of road has curves and changes in elevation. It is also bordered by posts with metal wires along the side of the road along the Housatonic River, rather than a traditional guardrail.
“My prayers go out to the young person that passed away and their family and the driver who was in the truck,” Bass said. “I hope he makes a quick recovery.”