Police: Man rescued from partially submerged vehicle in Connecticut River

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-27-2023 9:22 PM

PLAINFIELD — Rescue crews retrieved a man who was stranded on the roof of his vehicle after it plunged into the Connecticut River in Plainfield early Wednesday evening, according to Hanover Fire Department.

Hanover Fire Chief Jim Wheatley said emergency responders were called at 6:20 p.m. to an area near the intersection of Pierce Road and River Road in Plainfield, where they found a partially submerged vehicle about 300 feet from the riverbank with the vehicle’s driver — whose name has not been released — on the roof.

The vehicle had been traveling north on River Road toward West Lebanon in treacherous road conditions due to Wednesday’s snow and slush storm when it apparently left the road and entered the river, Wheatley said.

The Hanover Fire Department — and responders from eight Upper Valley fire and police departments — deployed a rescue boat while other crews engineered a “rope rescue system” to retrieve the driver from the roof of the vehicle. The driver, who Wheatley said had escaped out of the vehicle’s “rear hatch,” managed to avoid contact with the icy water.

Wheatley said the driver looked to be in his late 20s and declined medical treatment.

“He was evaluated, but he refused to be transported. He was really just cold and went with a family member,” Wheatley said.

The cause of the crash is being investigated, but Wednesday night’s weather conditions may have played a role. The bend in River Road at the intersection with Pierce Road where the vehicle went into the river can require caution in inclement conditions.

“The roads were snow-covered and very slick last night,” Wheatley told the Valley News on Thursday morning. “I don’t know if that’s what led to it, but it certainly didn’t help anything.”

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Wheatley said the vehicle would remain submerged in the river overnight because it was unsafe to conduct the recovery operation in the dark.

Crews on Thursday pulled the car from the water, an operation undertaken by Sabil & Sons, of Hartford, along with assistance from the Plainfield Police Department and other first responders.

Plainfield Police Chief Anthony Swett, who was on hand for the recovery, said the crash was caused by excessive speed and poor road conditions and that the driver will be responsible for covering the cost of retrieving his car from the river.

Water rescue teams from fire departments in Plainfield, Hartford, Hanover, Lebanon, Windsor and Hartland, in addition to teams from Cornish Rescue Squad and Plainfield Police Department, responded to the scene on Wednesday.

No injuries were suffered by rescue workers in the operation, and the scene was cleared at 7:57 p.m., Hanover Fire Department said.

Valley News and Report for America staff photographer Alex Driehaus contributed to this report.

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