Few accidents despite Tuesday’s blizzard

  • A 2005 Hyundai, operated by Sean Lafebvre, 22, of New Ipswich, was traveling south when Lafebvre lost control due to the slippery conditions, crossing into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a 2008 Chevrolet, driven by Marcel Alix, 30, of Greenville on Tuesday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The Bubble at Franklin Pierce University was damaged but remained inflated. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Bubble nearly burst — again — on Tuesday, but despite damage from Winter Storm Stella, Franklin Pierce University’s athletic complex survived the blizzard.

The Grimshaw-Gudewicz Activity Center at Northfields, commonly known as the Bubble is made out of plastic, held up by air the flows between the outer and inner linings of the shell. It has collapsed at least twice — during the 2008 ice storm and in February of 2013.

According to a series of tweets from Franklin Pierce’s Twitter account, Tuesday’s storm was “unkind” to the Bubble, but facilities employees were able to keep it from fully deflating.

“It will need further repairs, but it lives on,” the University tweeted. 

The University was assessing the damage to the Bubble on Wednesday, but estimated that it would be reopened next week. 

A similarly constructed facility, the Hampshire Dome in Milford, had a roof collapse on Wednesday, according to published reports.

Snowy roads causemotorists trouble

The day started early for police on Tuesday morning, in the early hours of what would become a fierce winter storm.

At 6:53 a.m., police responded to a two-car accident on Route 31 South in the area of King Brook road in Wilton. A 2005 Hyundai, operated by Sean Lafebvre, 22, of New Ipswich, was traveling south when Lafebvre lost control due to the slippery conditions, crossing into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a 2008 Chevrolet, driven by Marcel Alix, 30, of Greenville.

Both vehicles sustained significant damage, the Chevrolet to its front end and the Hyundai to its passenger side. Both had to be towed from the scene, but neither Alix nor Lafebvre were injured.

There were no other major accidents in Wilton until Wednesday morning. At 8:49 a.m., Wilton police and Milford ambulance were dispatched to Route 101 for a two-car accident. Punam Ercoline, 53, of Greenfield was stopped in a line of traffic in a 2004 BMW when a 2005 Chevrolet driven by Scott Baker, 55, of Peterborough, who was approaching the same line of traffic, attempted to stop, but was not able to in time and struck Ercoline’s vehicle. Baker’s vehicle pushed Ercoline’s off the road. Ercoline was transported to Monadnock Community Hospital by Milford Ambulance to be checked for a non-life-threatening injury.

In Jaffrey, at 7 a.m., David Pipitone of Rindge was traveling north on Fitzgerald Drive and lost control of his 2004 GMC pickup 1500, sliding sideways. His vehicle struck a 2015 Ford Escape driven by Richard Helstein, which was traveling south. there was moderate damage to Helstein’s vehicle, which had to be towed from the scene. Pipitone’s vehicle also had minor damage, but he was able to drive it from the scene. Both drivers were checked by the ambulance crew and refused transport to the hospital. Police provided Helstein a ride to his residence.

Jaffrey police also responded to two disabled vehicles on Tuesday — one on Hillcrest Road, where Jay Layfield of Jaffrey had shut his car off to cool after pushing the engine trying to get up the hill. His battery died. Police stood by while his vehicle was jump started and he was able to get on his way. 

While Peterborough had several vehicles reported to have slid off the road, and stood by for multiple vehicles while they waited for a tow or dug themselves out of embankments with the help of passersby, there was only one reportable accident, reported Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard.

At 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday, a tractor-trailer jackknifed while crossing Temple Mountain on Route 101. The driver, Kristo Vasiliu of Nashua, wasn’t injured, but the trailer sustained some minor damage when it collided with a guardrail. 

But many departments reported no serious accidents during Tuesday’s storm — most attributing it to warnings to the public to stay off the roads if at all possible. 

“I think most people heeded the advice,” said Wilton Police Chief Brent Hautanen. “If you had anything but a four-wheel drive it was hard to get around on the secondary roads once the snow built up.”

One town that did have a busy traffic load on Tuesday morning was Francestown, the only town in the region that persisted in holding its town vote despite the storm, and had a turnout of 411 residents. But those that came out to vote didn’t have much trouble on the roads, according to police.

"Even though we had voting yesterday and there was a lot of traffic, we didn't have any accidents," Francestown Police Chief Fred Douglas said on Wednesday morning. "I have to say town crews and the state DOT [Department of Transportation] did a fantastic job." 

He said police received one report of a vehicle that slid off of Mountain Road, although the driver was able to dig himself out. 

Bennington Police Chief Brett Sullivan said the department received calls regarding vehicles slipping off of the road. In some of those instances, Sullivan said police helped push those cars back onto the road.

"Traffic was really light yesterday," Sullivan said, adding that many probably stayed home while waiting out the storm. 

Representatives from departments in Antrim, New Ipswich, Rindge, Dublin, Mason and Temple-Greenville also all reported there were no significant accidents, though in some areas cars had gone off the road, but were able to extricate themselves without damage or injury.