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Fatality on Pike creates traffic havoc; Worcester man dead, woman hurt.

Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

WESTBORO - A 45-year-old man was killed and a woman was injured yesterday afternoon in a rollover accident on the Massachusetts Turnpike that backed up traffic for hours.

According to a preliminary investigation by state police, the 33-year-old woman was driving a 1994 Infinity sedan east on the turnpike about 2:40 p.m. yesterday when she lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over. The man, a passenger in the front seat, was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was taken by ambulance to UMass Memorial Medical Center - University Campus in Worcester with what state police described as serious injuries.

State police identified the two as Ronald Ziridamu of Worcester and Elizabeth Bakanansa of Worcester. Ms. Bakanansa was still being evaluated late last night, according to a nursing supervisor.

State police said the cause of the accident is

under investigation.

The accident and an accident reconstruction team's work effectively brought eastbound traffic on the Pike to a halt. Westbound lanes were open, but two eastbound lanes were closed, allowing only one lane of cars to make it past the accident site. Traffic only got worse as the Friday rush hour approached.

The turnpike's Natick Plaza rest area resembled a veritable triage center for bleary-eyed commuters who had finally made it beyond the crash scene and needed somewhere to get out and stretch, use the restrooms, gas up, get something to eat or, in the case of Timothy Moyer of Michigan, walk the dog.

Mr. Moyer said he has been making the 13-1/2-hour drive every four to six weeks from his home to Hull, where he is restoring a house. He was walking his dog, Buddy, in the small dog-walking section that is fenced off and replete with a fire hydrant.

He said he was sad to hear a man was killed, but wondered why it took so long for police to clear the accident scene.

"The traffic reports on the radio said it was slow going," Mr. Moyer said. "But it was more like stopped."

He said he was stopped in traffic for at least two hours. He said radio stations reported that accident reconstruction teams were working at the site. He wondered if that could have been done more quickly or after some traffic was allowed through.

Anibal Davila of Indiana was strapping a rooftop luggage pack on top of his sport utility vehicle as his wife and two small children headed to the service area's restrooms and restaurants. He said they were making their first trip to the area for a vacation in Boston, and he was shocked at the traffic jam. A portable back-seat DVD player helped keep the kids calm, he said.

"It was horrible," Mr. Davila said. "There's nothing like that in Indiana."

Michael Kosinski of Albany, N.Y., arrived at the Natick Plaza with his wife and three young children. As with Mr. Davila's family, Mr. Kosinski's children were also distracted by a DVD player.

"We watched a little `Stuart Little,'" Mr. Kosinski said while holding his son, who appeared to be in no mood to talk. "But we have some other movies, too."

Interstate 495 south, from Route 9 to the Massachusetts Turnpike, was also backed up as commuters sought alternate routes. The one-exit commute on I-495, from Route 9 in Westboro to the turnpike exit, typically takes a few minutes, but three hours after the accident the traffic was still crawling and the drive was stretched to more than 30 minutes. Daring scofflaws zipped by the lumbering mass of cars in the debris-littered breakdown lane. Occasionally, a tractor-trailer planted itself halfway into the lane, forcing the opportunists to wait with the rest of the traffic.

ART: PHOTOS; MAP

PHOTOG: (PHOTOS) T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE; (MAP) T&G Staff/MARCOS SALDANA

CUTLINE: (PHOTO 1) Traffic backs up yesterday after the accident on the eastbound side of the turnpike, as seen from the Westboro Road overpass. (PHOTO 2) A tarp covers the car involved in yesterday's fatal crash. (MAP) Scene of accident
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 21, 2007
Words:678
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