Drivers unhurt as pickup slams truck in Stockbridge

By Clarence Fanto, Eagle correspondent STOCKBRIDGE -- A pickup truck sped through a stop sign at a key downtown intersection Monday afternoon, smashing into a 18-wheeler and tying up traffic for an hour during the afternoon rush. But miraculously, neither driver was injured, said Police Chief Darrell Fennelly.

John Gordon Colpitts, 81, of Lakeville, Conn., was heading southbound on Route 7 in his 2011 Dodge pickup when he blew right through the stop sign at Route 102 (Main Street), Fennelly said. Multiple witnesses told police Colpitts was traveling at 40 to 50 mph in the 35 mph zone as he approached the intersection as if the stop sign didn't exist and tried to make the right turn onto Main Street heading west toward the center of town. He failed to negotiate the curve, crossed over the center line and hit the rear wheels of a 2015 Freightliner truck hauling a cargo box trailer driven by Ryan Shea, 34, of Wilbraham, Fennelly said.

The pickup truck, a total loss, was hauled away by RW's of Lee. The 18-wheeler, whose only damage was to a driver's side rear tire, which fell off the vehicle, was driven by Shea to A & M Truck Repair in Lee.

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As a precaution, Lee Ambulance and Stockbridge EMTs responded to the scene to check the drivers, who were both found to be OK, the police chief said. Colpitts will be charged with failure to observe a stop sign and a marked-lanes violation.

The investigation is being handled by Stockbridge Officer Michael Bourisk, who was assisted at the scene by Officer Thomas Rabino. Traffic was backed up significantly in all directions for about an hour following the 3:20 p.m. accident as Lee Police handled traffic control through mutual aid, Fennelly said. A recent road safety audit commissioned by the town from the state Department of Transportation suggested converting the convergence of Routes 7, 102 and Vine Street adjacent to the firehouse to a "T" intersection.

MassDOT, which holds joint jurisdiction of the intersection with the town, described the recommendation as an expensive, long-term solution but with a high safety payoff. From 2014 to summer of this year, there were 25 accidents at the intersection, with 16 percent causing injuries and 68 percent described as rear-end crashes. The remaining 32 percent were equally divided among head-on, angle, sideswipe and single-vehicle crashes.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.

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