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Bennington

Trucker died on familiar route

Canadian man  ID’d in fatal crash

A Canadian truck driver who died on June 12 after his tractor-trailer unit rolled over on Route 202 in Bennington was a regular visitor to New England Forest Products in Greenfield, where he had picked up a load of lumber shortly before the accident.

“He was down here about once a week,” said Debby Buxton, co-owner of the Greenfield business, about Julien Gonthier, 53, of St. Adalbert, Quebec. “When he left that day, he was joking and laughing. It really hit people kind of hard.”

The accident occurred about 11 a.m., as Gonthier, who was a driver for Transport St.-Pamphile, a Quebec trucking company, was headed north just after turning on to Route 202 near the Monadnock Paper Mill. According to Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell, witnesses said the tractor trailer slowly drifted right, went off the road through a guardrail, down an embankment, and came to rest upside down in standing water. Campbell said there were no reports that Gonthier had been speeding and no skid marks on the road.

Gonthier was pulled out of the cab by Antrim Rescue workers and taken to Monadnock Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The accident is still under investigation. A N.H. medical examiner came to the accident scene, and on Tuesday Campbell said an autopsy is being conducted. The results will not be known for six to eight weeks, he said.

Joel Chouinard, a dispatcher at Transport St.-Pamphile, said in a phone interview Tuesday that Gonthier had worked for the company for about seven years.

“He was a hard worker, who liked to help everybody,” Chouinard said. “He would go everywhere in New England, New York and Canada.” He said Gonthier had a wife and three children.

According to published reports, Gonthier had been a truck driver for more than 20 years, also owned a sugar bush business and was a volunteer firefighter.

Buxton said the lumber that was on the overturned truck was removed from the site. The lumber no longer belonged to New England Forest Products once it had been picked up. When material is damaged in such an accident, it is classified as contaminated. She said insurance companies will eventually determine what will happen to it.

“The company that did the clean up hauled it away,” Buxton said. “We don’t know where it went.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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