7 Hurt When Special Needs Van Overturns in Watery North Reading Ditch

Two people "who saw the crash wasted no time in acting to help the passengers inside the van," police said

A special needs van flipped into a ditch along a road in North Reading, Massachusetts, Tuesday, sending six adult occupants and the driver to the hospital with non–life-threatening injuries, authorities said. 

Two bystanders rushed to the overturned Dodge Caravan on Park Street near Central Street, where they helped free the people inside, according to local police and firefighters. The van was in 3-4 inches of water. 

The six adults with special needs and the man driving the van were taken to the hospital, but their injuries aren't expected to be life thretening, authorities said.

"We have seven patients... that's more than we can handle in a single incident so we had to quickly activate a mass casualty incident, notified our local EMS director and they notified the hospital that we were coming with a large number of patients all at once from the same scene," a North Reading paramedic said.

Fortunately, all those taken to the hospital suffered only minor injuries.

"They were all conscious and alert. Some bumps and bruises, minor bleeding on the head from broken glass and that sort of thing," the North Reading paramedic said.

The van had struck a guard rail on Park Street, which caused the rollover, authorities said, but the crash is still under investigation.

Seven ambulances responded to the scene, but most of the passengers were able to get themselves out, fire officials said earlier Tuesday.

The six occupants were part of American Training in Andover, a private non-profit organization that works with people with various disabilities to connect them with employment opportunities and community membership.

A spokesperson for American Training said the driver of the van has an impeccable driving record and passed all their background and driving requirements.

"This was a serious crash but fortunately not a tragic one," North Reading Police Chief Michael P. Murphy said in a statement. "Two residents who saw the crash wasted no time in acting to help the passengers inside the van, and I want to thank them for the important role they played in helping emergency personnel bring everyone to safety."

Contact Us