Five injured in Christmas Day rollover

SHARON — Five people were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following a Christmas Day crash on Route 123 in Sharon involving two vehicles. While travelling east on Nashua Road, a 2011 Mitsubishi, driven by William Vanvalkenburg, 50, of Fitzwilliam, neglected to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Nashua Road and Route 123, according to Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard. As Vanvalkenburg started to cross Route 123, his vehicle collided with a 2007 Ford driven by David Cotzin, 76, of New Ipswich. The impact caused Vanvalkenburg’s vehicle to roll over and land on its roof.

On his way home from celebrating Christmas with a friend living in New Ipswich, Chuck De Vinne and his two adult children came across the accident. It must have happened only a short time before, said De Vinne in an interview Thursday, but already several other vehicles had stopped and more than half a dozen people had gotten out of their cars to assist. One was on the phone already, said De Vinne, so emergency services were on the way.

One car, the one driven by Cotzin, was on its wheels with some serious front-end damage, he said,. The other, Vanvalkenburg’s, was on its roof off the shoulder of the road, and its occupants were still inside. Both were conscious and lucid, said De Vinne, and didn’t appear to have major life-threatening injuries, so the decision was made to help them exit the vehicle before emergency personnel arrived.

De Vinne, along with his son Peter, 21, found a door that opened and a woman was able to crawl out. The male driver, William Vanvalkenburg, was trapped by his seatbelt, said De Vinne, but was also eventually freed and able to exit the vehicle under his own power. Other witnesses offered blankets to the occupants of the vehicle. As soon as it was clear that everything was under control, De Vinne and his son got back into their car and left the scene. As he continued down Route 123, he saw the emergency response headed for the accident.

“It was great to see the response coming down the road,” De Vinne said. “I think we’re all fortunate to have such terrific response time.”

In the other car was Cotzin and his wife, Hazel Cotzin, of New Ipswich. The two had been driving when Vanvalkenburg’s vehicle came through the stop sign, and Cotzin’s vehicle hit it on the side panel, which is what sent the Mitsubishi rolling, Cotzin said in an interview Friday.

Cotzin’s vehicle was badly damaged, but the couple got away without life-threatening injury, said Cotzin. Two days after the accident, Cotzin said he was still sore, but not badly hurt, and his wife had suffered a broken foot. Still, they were lucky, he said.

“We’re OK. The car’s not so OK. But it could have been worse,” said Cotzin. “Nobody got hurt too bad, that’s the good thing. You can always get another car. You can’t just get a new limb or a new wife.”

De Vinne agreed, noting that as he drove away, he told his children to take the experience as a reminder. “I said, ‘Here’s two things to take away from this. One, to make sure to wear year seatbelts and, two, to be thankful that these people all got out of this thing alive.”

Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene, said Guinard. The three occupants of Vanvalkenburg’s vehicle and the two occupants of Cotzin’s were all transported to Monadnock Community Hospital for treatment.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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