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Tue., Oct. 6
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Multi-vehicle Massena accident damages building


MASSENA — Main Street descended into chaos Wednesday afternoon as a multicar accident overturned one car and sent a pickup truck barreling into a hair salon.

The accident in front of First United Methodist Church at about 4:45 p.m. caused multiple injuries. Hairitage House, 181 Main St., sustained extensive damage from the crash.

A white Chevrolet Impala in the crash toppled a tree in front of the Methodist church and a fire hydrant before coming to rest upside down. Other vehicles also were involved.

The driver of the pickup was taken to Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse. Two other victims, a passenger in the pickup and the Impala driver were taken to Massena Memorial Hospital with unknown injuries. Emergency responders extricated passengers from both the Impala and the pickup.

Lori J. Collins, Hairitage House owner, saw the black truck speeding toward her business. She was painting a customer’s nails at the time.

“The two of us grabbed each other. We kind of screamed. We thought it was going to hit us,” she said. “The whole building got engulfed in smoke. We got out of there.”

The hardwood floor underneath her buckled, she said. She smelled gas as she ran out and wasn’t sure if the business could continue there, as the pickup had slammed into its foundation. Authorities said a gas line ruptured at the scene, creating additional concerns.

“The building is 110 years old and I think it’s done,” she said.

At about 4:45 p.m. the driver of the pickup, heading north on Main Street, sideswiped a vehicle at the intersection of Route 37.

“I was the first one hit,” said Roger LaGrue of Cornwall, Ontario. “It was a hit and run.”

The truck then sped down Main Street, village police said. It rear-ended the Impala in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken, then struck it again, sending both out of control.

At one point, the pickup crossed into the southbound lane. Cindie A. Cringle of Massena swerved her car out of its way, coming to rest near a Jesus statue in front of Sacred Heart Church.

“It was just horrific,” she said. “The black car was going very fast, sporadic, and out of control. ... Thank God I was paying attention.”

“I’m glad I didn’t hit the statue,” she added. “I can’t imagine why anybody would be going like that.”

The accident’s debris field stretched from the KFC parking lot down to the salon. Garbage, car parts and glass were strewn across Main Street, which was reopened to traffic by 7 p.m. A crowd gathered along the normally busy street to witness the scene.

The pickup nearly struck other vehicles as well. Charlene A. Avery was turning into Massena Savings & Loan with her 10-, 8- and 6-year-old sons when she saw the truck in her rearview mirror speeding down the street. She turned into the parking lot before the truck could strike her.

“I was thinking, oh my God, what was (she) doing,” she said. “(She) was just flying through here ... I think we had angels watching over us.”

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