Photo courtesy of Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department: One tractor trailer hit another head-on at the intersection of Routes 4 and 100 in Bridgewater on Monday evening. The Bridgewater store was significantly damaged.
By Katy Savage
The Bridgewater Corners Country Store was forced to close Monday, March 23, after a tractor trailer slid off the road in a snowstorm and struck the building, causing substantial damage.
Bridgewater Fire Chief Ed Earle said the trailer, carrying U.S. mail, was heading west on Route 4 toward Woodstock when the driver, Henry Davis, 38, from Cleveland, Ohio, tried to slow down for a car that was turning at the intersection of Routes 4 and 100. Davis then hit another tractor trailer truck head-on driven by Wesley Wheeler, 63, from Brandon.
According to the police report filed, “Investigation of the crash showed that Davis’s tractor trailer unit traveled left of center and stuck Wheeler’s tractor trailer unit. After being struck, Wheeler’s unit struck the Bridgewater Corner Store causing damage to the store front. Wheeler’s unit then struck two parked vehicles which had no occupants at the time.”
Police reported that there were no injuries in the accident. Substantial snow had fallen at the time of the accident with, upwards of 8 inches expected. The owners of the pick-up truck, who live in Bridgewater, and the SUV, which had New York license plates, were both in the store at the time of the accident around 5 p.m. Monday.
The roadway was temporarily reduced to one lane as a result of this crash and was re-opened to two lanes at 8 p.m.
“He couldn’t slow down,” Earle said. “There’s some pretty substantial damage to the roof.”
Earle said a fire marshal ordered the store to close until a structural engineer could look at it.
The truck and vehicles were cleared from the area around 9 p.m., but Earle was still waiting for a hazmat team from Colchester to arrive late Monday.
“There was a lot of leaked diesel fuel,” he said.
The historic Bridgewater Corners Country Store building dates back to the 1800s. It’s long been an iconic part of town. It was the site of the town’s first post office and it’s become known for its deli sandwiches.
“It shook the whole store,” said store manager Irfan Aris, who was inside when the truck hit. “Everyone freaked out.”
Aris said people inside screamed as Aris ran outside to the truck driver and then called 911.
“People were obviously in shock,” Aris siad.
Aris said a corner of the deck attached to the store and two pillars at the entrance were destroyed, but the rest of the store was intact.
Aris wasn’t sure on Monday evening when he would be able to reopen the store. He also wasn’t sure how much the damages would cost.
“I’m trying to figure that out,” he said.