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Mass. girl, 16, killed in Wakefield crash

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 11. 2014 11:04PM

Separate traffic accidents on icy roads Saturday left a Massachusetts teenager dead and hundreds of homes and businesses without power. Temperatures later surged into the 50s in the state's southern tier.

"It's like bumper cars out there this morning," Manchester police Sgt. Craig Russo said. "People sliding everywhere."

A two-vehicle crash on Route 16 in Wakefield killed a 16-year-old girl, Julia Vanella of Malden, Mass., and sent four others to the hospital, according to Wakefield Police Chief Ken Fifield

.Fifield said police were looking into the drivers' actions, but icy road conditions were a factor in the mid-morning crash.

"Conditions were very slick and very treacherous," he said.

Temperatures varied across the state, with many areas seeing fog. Thermometers eclipsed the 50-degree mark by mid-afternoon in Manchester and Portsmouth, while Concord was stuck at 32 degrees and Berlin at 44 degrees.

The National Weather Service predicted 1 to 2 inches of rain would fall through Sunday and posted a flood watch statewide.

"The heavy rainfall and mild temperatures may lead to ice jams, which could cause flooding," the Weather Service said. "The threat of ice jams will continue into Sunday as temperatures will remain above freezing."

Flooding also was possible in urban and poor-drainage areas.Sunday's temperatures were forecast to hit about 40 in Berlin and the mid-40s in the southern tier.But Saturday morning, motorists in many locales faced slick roads.

In Weare, a vehicle snapped a telephone pole about 6:15 a.m. on Deering Center Road. Electrical wires and a section of pole landed on the vehicle, but the driver was not hurt. The accident knocked out power to 422 Public Service of New Hampshire customers for hours, according to the utility's website.

In Plymouth, a town sanding truck hit two propane tanks on Loon Lake Road about 4 p.m. Saturday after the driver lost control on icy conditions, said firefighter Jeremy Bonan. The tanks were not damaged, but sheared lines from the tanks to the home caused a leak, he said.

"The road was glare ice," he said.

The truck driver, whose name was not available, was taken to Speare Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Bonan said. Nobody was at the home at the time of the accident, he said.State Transportation Department spokesman Bill Boynton cited "challenging conditions this morning, with freezing rain and below freezing ground temperatures."

The department has spent nearly $21 million on winter road maintenance this season, Boynton said.The winter season is 40 percent over, and the state has spent 49.7 percent of its anticipated $42 million budget, he said. Crews have used about 78,000 tons of salt, about 51 percent of its stored supply.Freezing-rain advisories blanketed the state Saturday morning, warning drivers. Authorities had lowered the speed limit to 45 mph on Interstate 93 and the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

Russo said there were probably at least a dozen accidents in Manchester between 5 and 9 a.m.In the Wakefield crash, Fifield said, lanes in both directions of Route 16 were closed for a couple of hours from Exit 18 to the traffic lights at the Route 16/Route 125 intersection in Union following the crash, reported at 9:44 a.m.

Julia Vanella was seated in the car's front passenger seat, Fifield said. Her mother, Lisa Vanella, was driving, and Julia's 6-year-old sister was seated in the back seat, Fifield said. The teenager was pronounced dead at the accident scene. The eldest Vanella and her younger daughter suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester and released.

The family was headed north to North Conway when, during rainy and icy road conditions, the driver lost control and encroached into the southbound lane sideways, Fifield said. The vehicle was broadsided by a 2012 Jeep Liberty driven by Penny Cotreau, 41, of Wakefield, Fifield said.A passenger in the Cotreau vehicle, Wesley Huckins, no age available, suffered a serious injury and was being treated at Frisbie Memorial Hospital. Cotreau was treated at the hospital and released.The crash occurred in a section of roadway where passing was permitted, about 100 feet north of the Milton town line.Several other weather-related accidents that were less serious were reported throughout Wakefield.


With contributions from freelance reporter Larissa Mulkern and staff reporter Tim Buckland.

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