ATTLEBORO — Bystanders were instrumental in helping those involved in a horrific fatal crash in Interstate 95 over the weekend, and also gave a big assist to first responders.
That’s according to Deputy Fire Chief Ed Greve, who extended his thanks to those who helped in the aftermath of the late Saturday morning accident.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, people were laying on the ground outside a passenger van involved in the wreck, Greve said.
There were initial reports of one person missing, and people began searching the median strip, but the missing person was was quickly accounted for, he said.
State police said Saturday that two of the 11 people ejected from the passenger van died as a result of their injuries.
State police said the 2004 Ford Econoline van was traveling on I-95 north in the area of Exit 3 when it was struck by a 2018 Toyota RAV 4, which was also traveling north in an adjacent lane.
Both vehicles then crossed over the median. The van rolled over and crashed in the southbound travel lanes and the Toyota, which did not roll over, came to rest in the breakdown lane on the southbound side, state police said in a social media post.
All 11 people in the van were ejected during the rollover. The injured were transported to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. One person in the van was declared dead at the hospital a short time later. A second person died of his injuries later Saturday, according to a social media post by state police.
The operator of the Toyota, a 32-year-old East Providence, R.I. woman, was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Both of the fatalities were adult males, police said.
The van was operating as part of a tour group that caters to the Polish-American community. It is believed the van may have picked up passengers in Philadelphia; Trenton, Linden, and Wallington, N.J.; and New York City, and was going to various sites in Massachusetts, police said.
None of the people involved in the crash were identified.
Greve said five of those from the van were listed as Priority 1 patients, meaning they had potential life-threatening injuries.
He said all of the patients were triaged at the scene and rescue workers were able to quickly get ambulances onto the clogged highway by driving the wrong way down closed exit ramps.
The deputy chief said Attleboro sent three ambulances, Pawtucket sent three, North Attleboro and Cumberland each sent two and Central Falls and Seekonk each sent one for a total of 12 ambulances to transport the injured.
Greve said firefighters received the initial call regarding the crash at 11:01 a.m. and didn’t clear the highway until 1:32 p.m.
The crash is under investigation with assistance from the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, Crime Scene Services Section, Troop H Detectives, and troopers assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. Police said they had not filed any charges.