By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — A tremendous head-on collision on Lowell Street sent four people to the hospital late yesterday afternoon, after a vehicle was said to inexplicably gain speed and then swerve into the oncoming lane.
Police and firefighters declined to identify the people involved last night, saying that relatives hadn’t yet been contacted, but confirmed that two men who had been in a Chevrolet Camaro were transported via ambulance to Mass. General Hospital with serious head injuries.
A man in the second vehicle, a Ford Edge, was transported to Salem Hospital with a head injury. The woman driving the Edge was transported to the same hospital with minor injuries.
Witness John Berube, who saw the accident as he pulled into his driveway nearby, described the Camaro exiting Ridgefield Street at a high rate of speed, “leaving rubber,” and accelerating before going out of control and slamming into the Edge, which was traveling in the opposite direction.
“He came peeling out, out of control,” said Berube. “He was totally on the wrong side of the road.” He pointed up Lowell Street. “Look at the skid mark.” Berube described the driver and occupant as “two young men.” Peabody police and Fire Department personnel had to cut off the roof of the Camaro with the Jaws of Life to extricate them. “There was blood everywhere.”
Berube moved to the minivan. “He got crushed. ... I wanted to help them.” He described the couple as married for many years and older. He spoke with the man and speculated that his wife was in shock. Her husband, he believed, had one or two broken legs. “He tried to stand up. He stood up, and then he stopped.”
Fighting to control his emotions, Berube was at a loss to understand why the Camaro had suddenly gained so much speed. He estimated the speed of the Edge at 25 miles per hour. The weekday afternoon traffic usually confines drivers to very slow speeds.
Following the accident, police closed off Lowell Street, one of the most traveled byways in Peabody. It took crews about two hours to clean up the scene.
State police are assisting with accident reconstruction.
Staff writer Neil H. Dempsey contributed to this report.