Lifelong Springfield resident Nate Parker says he's seen a lot of crashes at the intersection of Routes 5 and 11. Last week, not only did he witness one, but he also sprang into action.
"I heard a squealing and saw a car head into this intersection and then it disappeared behind this fence and bushes, and then I saw a plume of debris and smoke had gone into the air," Parker said.
The two vehicles collided at the intersection, flipping a minivan with three occupants onto its side. Two people were trapped. Parker said a small fire ignited in the undercarriage.
"I ran back to the hotel and grabbed the extinguisher and quickly came back and extinguished the fire in the engine compartment," he said.
Emergency crews got to the scene and minutes later helped free the victims. No one was seriously injured in that crash. Witnesses call Parker a lifesaver.
"If he hadn't been there and I was the person there, I know I wouldn't have been able to run up that hill, find the extinguisher and run back there and extinguish that fire. So, I think there should be great gratitude," witness Laurie Malenfant said.
Parker does not consider himself a hero; he says he did what anyone would have done in that situation. But, he says the incident is highlighting an ongoing problem at the intersection.
"We have a lot of interstate traffic coming off and that car that went by, he certainly was not going 40 mph," Parker said.
The state lowered the speed limit here in 1994 from 50 mph after a request from the town. In 2009, the intersection was on the state's top 50 hotspots and crash analysis was conducted. But two years later, it was off the list and no additional safety measures were put in place. Parker says more needs to be done.
"Possibly a flashing speed limit light that lets the driver know they are going over the speed limit," he suggested.
He also says the yield sign on the Exit 7 off ramp should be turned into a stop.
"We do have the real estate there and the option to make it a stop condition," said Rich Tetreault of VTrans.
But before that happens, VTrans says there needs to be evidence the yield sign has a direct impact on crashes. Further analysis will be done.
"We certainly are going to continue to evaluate and the person who is raising those good concerns, we are all ears," Tetreault said.
Getting people to listen is the reason Parker says he's telling his story.
"Really take a good look at this intersection and make it a safer intersection," Parker said.
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