By Paul Leighton and Neil H. Dempsey Staff Writers
The Salem News
---- — BEVERLY — Five people were hospitalized yesterday morning after a series of car crashes on both sides of the stretch of Route 128 near Brimbal Avenue.
Fire Lt. Ryan Laracy said the accidents apparently began shortly before 9 a.m., when a Waste Management truck traveling southbound on Route 128 swerved off the road just past Exit 19, rolling over and spilling a Dumpster full of trash off the back. It was unclear what caused the truck to swerve and State Police are investigating. The man driving it was brought to Beverly Hospital.
While Engine 5 was still on scene, two cars crashed into each other on the northbound side of 128, almost directly across from the scene of the first accident, Laracy said. Less than a minute later, another vehicle became ensnared in the second accident. He added it was possible drivers in those crashes had been distracted by the scene of the first.
The crew from Engine 5 witnessed the second accident and called Truck 1 and two ambulances back to the scene. Two men and two women were hospitalized as a result of the second and third accidents. Laracy said they suffered minor injuries but were backboarded as a precaution.
Traffic on both sides of the highway was reduced to one lane while the area was cleaned up, causing a long line of slow-moving traffic. The on-ramp to Exit 19 from the south side was also closed.
State Police said all lanes and the ramp were reopened at 10:59 a.m.