Steam rises as firefighters hose down the engine compartment of an SUV that caught fire after the driver reportedly lost his brakes and plowed head-on into a rock ledge Wednesday morning. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — The driver of an early model sports utility vehicle that burst into flames after crashing into a rock ledge, told police he'd lost his brakes.
The victim who was not immediately identified by police, suffered broken bones and may have been burned, before being pulled from the fiery wreckage by a Good Samaritan Wednesday morning.
The SUV was heading down a steep and curvy section of Batchelder Hill Road, when the driver said the brakes failed. He attempted to take a sharp right onto Eagle Ledge Road, which sharply inclines, in hopes of being able to slow the vehicle, but had too much speed to make the turn. The vehicle went straight across Eagle Ledge Road, hitting a rocky outcropping head-on.
After a 911 caller reported that the vehicle was ablaze and that the driver appeared to have suffered leg fractures and perhaps a broken arm, Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Dispatch immediately called for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Air Rescue Transport helicopter.
The chopper was able to land at a hilltop home at 77 Batchelder Hill Road to meet a waiting ambulance in which the victim was being stabilized, just seven minutes after the Meredith Fire Department and EMS arrived. The victim, a middle-aged man, the lone occupant of the vehicle, was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon for treatment.
Geron Sutton, who lives two doors down from the crash scene, said he heard an explosion, followed by several loud booms. As he frequently hears gunshots in the rural heavily wooded area he initially didn't find it unusual, but when he walked out to his mailbox he saw the crashed vehicle and a first responder who had already arrived and was
Sutton said this is the second time he has been impressed with the speedy arrival of firefighters and emergency medical personnel, noting his earlier experience was when his neighbor had a late-night chimney fire.
As the fire obliterated the vehicle identification number and consumed the license plates, police used the skill set of the ramp truck driver to determine the make and model year range of the vehicle. Finding a part number on a headlight assembly from the wrecked vehicle, an employee of Harper's Towing called an auto parts distributor and was able to determine the vehicle was a Chevy Blazer and an approximate range of the year of manufacture.
Eagle Ledge Road was closed for several hours as a result of the crash, creating some headaches for some early morning commuters traveling from neighboring Sanbornton.
The vehicle was burned so extensively that an employee of the towing company had to use a part number from the headlight assembly to determine its make and model year. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Air Rescue helicopter makes its approach to land at 77 Batchelder Hill Road to pick up the victim of a fiery motor vehicle crash Wednesday morning. (Bea Lewi/for The Laconia Daily Sun)