NEWS/PUBLIC SAFETY

Photo by MEGHAN PIERCE

By MEGHAN PIERCE

MARLBOROUGH — Unable to stop a propane leak in a tanker that rolled over as part of a three-vehicle collision on Route 124 Monday afternoon, firefighters from around the region responded to douse the tanks with water.

New Hampshire State Police responded the crash involving an Eastern Propane truck in the area of the Shaker Brook on Monday around 1:10 p.m.

According to state police, a 2017 Hyundai Elantra, driven by Lanie Obrien, 49, of Swanzey, was traveling westbound on Route 124 when it was struck from behind by a 1998 Dodge pickup truck, driven by Peter B. Thomas, 86, of  Dublin.

The collision caused the Hyundai to cross into the eastbound lane of Route 124 and collide with an Eastern Propane Gas Inc. 2010 Kenworth tanker, driven by Christopher S. Tucker, 45, of Greenville.

Obrien sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision and was taken by Diluzio Ambulance Service to Cheshire Medical Center in Keene.  Thomas and Tucker were uninjured.

UPDATE: A Cheshire Medical Center spokesperson said Tuesday that Obrien was in good condition.

The collision caused the tanker to roll over onto its side.  The tanker, which was partially full, sustained a small leak, but was able to be contained and secured in place, state police said in a news release shortly after 4 p.m. on Monday.

Route 124 was closed as measures were being taken to safely offload the propane from the overturned tanker to another tanker, state police said in the news release.

Around the time of the news release fire tankers from around the region were being used to spray water on the propane truck.

On scene Sgt. William DiLegge, NH State Police Troop C, said that was because the tanker was still leaking.

“They are just throwing water on it. I think they were trying to turn the value off or something and shut it off,” he said.

DiLegge said state police were waiting for Eastern Propane to arrive so they could attempt to stop or plug up the leak or move the leaking propane into an empty tanker.

The Hyundai and the Dodge remained at the scene so that once the propane emergency was cleared state police could investigate the crash scene.

“We’re waiting until they stop the leak there so we can go in and investigate the scene,” DiLegge said.

Also on scene Monday afternoon were Paul Cosentino and Gerald Herrman of C O & S Garage of East Templeton, Mass. The men said their company was called in to tow away the 3,500 gallon tanker, however, they had been waiting for hours and said it looked like they would be waiting for several more hours as the propane leak had not been secured.

“I wouldn’t go over there and smoke,” Herrman said.

“We work on them in the shop and we don’t leave them in the building. You never know,” Cosentino said.

The men said if the tank is compromised Eastern Propane would not be able to connect a line truck to it and empty it.

The water was being used to dampen the leaking propane, they said.

“The water just keeps the vapors down, cause that stuff will travel six, ten miles, you’ll smell it, strongly, that far away. Luckily it’s raining today,” Cosentino said.

A nearby home was evacuated due to its proximity to the collision, according to state police.

State police also said alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors in the collision.

Troop C, Troop G and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction (CAR) Unit were at the scene investigating.

New Hampshire State Police was assisted on scene by the Dublin and Harrisville Police Departments and Marlborough Fire Department and several other local fire departments.

Anyone with information about this collision is asked to contact Trooper Richard Camacho at (603) 223-8562.