Sneeze said to have caused entrapment crash on Mechanic Street

LACONIA — A woman escaped serious injury yesterday around noon after the car she was driving smashed into a utility pole on the flat portion of Mechanic Street, near the Hillside Cemetery and landed on its side.

She told police she sneezed and briefly lost control of her car.

With the shattered telephone pole along with live wires barely staying upright, firefighters worked to free the woman, identified as Helen Y. Brown, and her dog from the wreck.

Making yesterday's rescue particularly difficult was that the car landed on its drivers side, making it impossible for the victim to free herself.

Emergency crews initially used wooden supports to anchor the silver Subaru Legacy Outback so it wouldn't roll onto its roof. After opening the rear hatch, firefighters were able move the rear seat.

Rescuers then broke the seal on the windshield and pried it away from the car. At that point the were able to free Brown and take her from the vehicle through the rear hatch.

Brown was able to stand upright after being freed from the car and, with minimal assistance, was able to get on the gurney that took her to the ambulance where she was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital.

While being rolled on the gurney, she was talking on her cell phone and was making arrangements to have someone pick up the dog.

The woman's dog was unharmed, said Fire Chief Ken Erickson, and was taken by police who will hold it until one of her relatives comes to get it.

Police Sgt. Gary Hubbard said the portion of Mechanic Street near Hillside Cemetery will remained closed until Public Service of New Hampshire crews can make the area safe. He said the utility pole is close to the road on that part of the street.

Hubbard said that neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the crash.

CAPTION (crash on Mechanic Street) Firefighters work to reach a woman who was trapped in her car after it hit a utility pole and flipped onto its side. In one shot they are working on the rear hatch and in the other they are removing the windshield. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)