Car careens into Cumberland Farms
Updated 7:20 am, Thursday, April 3, 2014
FAIRFIELD -- A Bridgeport woman lost control of her car Monday night as she left I-95 southbound at Exit 24, plowing into parked cars and crashing into the Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store at 975 Kings Highway East.
The Nissan Maxima driven by Rosa Blanca Chavarria-Medina, 30, came directly off the exit ramp, crossed Chambers Street and careened into the Cumberland Farms gas station, glancing off a protective barrier and smashed into several other vehicles before coming to a stop.
Six vehicles in all were involved in the chain-reaction crash, police said Tuesday, but injuries suffered by four people who were hospitalized were described as non-life threatening.
But Lt. James Perez said Tuesday that at least one of the victims had sustained a fractured vetebrae and an eye injury.
"She was driving at a high rate of speed and never really slowed down,'' said Perez, the Fairfield police spokesman. "She struck a barrier that protects the gas pumps and then hit a parked vehicle that hit another parked vehicle, one with a young woman and her daughter inside.''
Chavarria-Medina, who has an international driver's license from Guatemala, first sideswiped another car as she sped off the highway's exit ramp and crossed Chambers Street without braking. She then hit the gas pump barrier and sideswiped a second car, parked at the pumps. Her car than struck a third car that was traveling through the lot, and that car slid into a fourth car, which Chavarria-Medina also struck. At that point, police said, her car became airborne, hit the store and sideswiped a fifth car as it came to rest.
Perez said that the accident could have been much worse if not for the metal barriers in near the pumps. He said in an interview that Chavarria-Medina's car could have potentially gone deep into the store, which had people inside.
Police were unable to interview Chavarria-Medina, who had to be extricated from her car by firefighters, at the scene. Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said investigators will apply for search warrants for Chavarria-Medina's blood to determine if alcohol was a factor, or any other medical conditions. The car she was driving was been impounded, Lussier said, and a will be examined to find out if might have been a mechanical malfunction that caused the crash.
"Charges will likely be filed barring any extenuating circumstances, like a medical or mechanical issue," Lussier said Tuesday.
Witnesses told DoingItLocal.com that the woman's car hit two other vehicles parked in front of the store, sending one into a fourth vehicle. At least one of the store's architectural pillars was damaged, as were two of the "bumper'' posts in front of the store. The force of the crash drove a Redbox video-dispensing machine into the building.
Two of the other vehicles had heavy front-end damage.
Witnesses told DoingItLocal.com that Chavarria-Medina was briefly unconscious. "I was afraid she was dead,'' a man said at the scene.
Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said that four people, including the driver, were taken to the hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. The identification and condition of the injured were not available Tuesday.
"We were called on a report of a vehicle striking the building and also that the building caught fire,'' the assistant fire chief said. "When we got here we found one victim trapped inside the vehicle. The police did a wonderful job of cordoning off the area.''
Police blocked access to the gas station, which was closed after the accident occurred about 9 p.m. Police said the building's integrity was not compromised by the collision, and the gas pumps were not damaged, but the business remained closed past 10 p.m. Monday.
The store was open Tuesday morning, and employess for Redbox were there repairing the damaged video-dispensing machine.
The accident is being investigated by the crash reconstruction team of the Fairfield Police Special Services Division.