ALTON — A Stratham man was rushed to a major medical center after a harrowing crash in which his SUV plunged over a cliff and landed on its roof on a road more than 100 feet below.
The accident occurred on Saturday about 10:20 a.m. at the Alton Bay Scenic Overlook along Route 11.
According to Alton Police Chief Ryan Heath, the driver of the SUV was Scott Bennet, 26, of Stratham, the sole occupant of the vehicle. Heath said Bennet was traveling west when the SUV veered off the highway, crossed over the safety island which separates the road from the overlook parking, continued across the parking lot, pitched up and over a snowbank which launched the vehicle into the air. The vehicle then took a nosedive and landed on its roof on Route 11D, about 100 to 150 feet below, Heath said.
Two Alton Fire Department vehicles rushed to the scene to find Bennet trapped in the vehicle.
According to a Fire Department media release, Alton personnel worked quickly to stabilize the vehicle and get to Bennet who was found with severe and possible life-threatening injuries. Alton then requested a paramedic from Gilford Fire Rescue come to the scene. Bennet was extricated from the vehicle and immediately loaded into an ambulance which rushed him to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia.
After being evaluated at the LRGH emergency he was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon because of the severity of his injuries.
“The snowbank acted as a ramp,” Heath said in explaining why the barrier of boulders at the edge of the parking lot had failed to stop the SUV from going over cliff. Heath said he was amazed that Bennet was not killed considering the how far his vehicle fell. “The vehicle took off the top of a pine tree,” he said.
A spokesperson from Dartmouth-Hitchcock said Monday Bennet’s name was not on list of patients whose condition could be reported on.
Heath said the accident remains under investigation, including the reason why the vehicle abruptly veered off the highway.