A driver was hospitalized Saturday night after his car smashed into a tree off the Merritt Parkway on the Fairfield/Westport border.

A 2003 Jaguar was heavily damaged after it struck the tree about 8:30 p.m. Saturday between Exits 42 and 44 northbound, according to Westport firefighters. After leaving the highway and striking the tree just north of the North Avenue overpass, the car swerved backed into the northbound travel lanes.

The driver had to be extricated from the wreck, was placed on a backboard and transported by Westport EMS to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which firefighters described as "moderate to severe."

Traffic backed up on the highway during emergency operations since travel was limited to one lane -- and, at one point -- completely closed.

The mangled car was carried from the scene by a flatbed truck and an absorbent substance was spread on the road surface to soak up fluids spilled by the crash.

The accident is being investigated by State Police.