Athol woman killed in crash on Route 2; Latest in long list of `Death Valley' fatalities.Byline: M. Elizabeth Roman
PHILLIPSTON - A 50-year-old Athol woman was pronounced dead at the scene of a two-vehicle head-on crash that occurred at about 3:10 p.m. on a section of Route 2 known as "Death Valley."
State police identified the woman as Rhonda S. Morand of Athol and said she was driving a 1990 Oldsmobile sedan Sedan (sədäN`), town (1990 pop. 22,407), Ardennes dept., NE France, on the Meuse River. A noted textile center since the 16th cent., Sedan also has metal and brewing industries. The town became part of French crown lands in 1642. . They said she was driving east between Exits 18 and 19 when a westbound 2006 Kia SUV, driven by Joanne Martin, 39, of Jaffrey, N.H., crossed the center lane. Ms. Martin was taken to Athol Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.
Edward Peters, 66, of Fitchburg, was a passenger in the Oldsmobile and was taken by ambulance to Heywood Hospital in Gardner and then to UMass Memorial Medical Center - University Campus, in Worcester, with minor injuries.
Traffic was diverted di·vert
v. di·vert·ed, di·vert·ing, di·verts
1. To turn aside from a course or direction: Traffic was diverted around the scene of the accident.
2. to Route 2A around the site of the crash for about two hours.
The carnage documented on this particular stretch of highway, where Route 2 shrinks from four lanes to two, has been noted since it was built in the 1950s. Since then, more than two-dozen people have died on this 30-mile length of road.
"There's a perceptual per·cep·tu·al
Of, based on, or involving perception. issue that you're driving on a divided highway," state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, said last night. "I've been driving it for years. You really have to kind of self-alert."
He said the area is not the best road in Massachusetts.
"But it's a quantum leap quantum leap
An abrupt change or step, especially in method, information, or knowledge: "War was going to take a quantum leap; it would never be the same" Garry Wills. from where it was," he said.
About five months ago, four-foot-high stanchions were installed beginning where the four-lane Route 2 shrinks to two lanes near the Athol-Phillipston line. The plastic paddles are attached to a raised plastic section running along the center of the road.
The paddles fall over if struck by cars.
"It's a double-edged sword," John R. Seamon, Route 2 Advisory Committee member, said. "We tried to make the road safer by giving drivers a visual reminder: `This is a split highway, you can't pass here. Stay on your own side.'"
The state Highway Department is completing ramp work and will widen wid·en
tr. & intr.v. wid·ened, wid·en·ing, wid·ens
To make or become wide or wider.
widen·er n. three to five bridges. The cost is estimated at $40 million, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Mr. Brewer.
Mr. Seamon said members of the task force, which include members from all affected communities from Greenfield Greenfield, town (1990 pop. 18,666), seat of Franklin co., NW Mass., at the confluence of the Deerfield and Green rivers, near their junction with the Connecticut; settled 1686, set off from Deerfield and inc. 1753. to Phillipston, met March 29.
"Improvements include ramps, widening of the road, improved intersections and bridge improvement," Mr. Seamon said.
Mr. Seamon has been a task force member for the past 12 years. Safety improvements began in 1998 after a series of fatal crashes.
In October 1998 four young women were killed and a pickup truck driver injured in·jure
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.
2. To cause damage to; impair.
3. . In September, a mother and her 16-year-old daughter were killed; a baby in the vehicle survived.
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer. : T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR
CUTLINE: The scene of yesterday's fatal crash on Route 2.