Avon marks 10 years since deadly Avon Mountain crash - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Avon marks 10 years since deadly Avon Mountain crash

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A memorial service was held just before 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday. (WFSB photo) A memorial service was held just before 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday. (WFSB photo)
(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)
(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

The town of Avon marked 10 years since a dump truck careened down Avon Mountain and left four people dead and 19 others hurt.

A memorial service took place at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the former Nassau's Furniture store.

Now the Boyle's Furniture Store, it sits near the intersection where the crash happened.

Following sirens to mark the original response call around 7:15 a.m., former fire Chief Jamie DiPace served as the master of services and delivered an emotional greeting.

"It started as a beautiful day, much like it is right now," DiPace said. "We quickly realized it was much more than a bad accident. It was worse than we had ever witnessed."

The names of Barbara Bongiovanni, Maureen Edlund, Frank Juan, Abdulraheem Naafi and Paul Stotler were announced as officials rang a bell.

Juan's name was included after his family said he was paralyzed in the crash and died three years after the crash.

"Today we remember the victims," DiPace said. "We remember all the first responders. We remember the civilians who were nearby and stopped to help instead of turning around and leaving."

For Edlund's brother, driving to the service was the hardest part."It was tough, because to get here I take [Routes] 10 and 202 and that's the route I took to meet with the Avon police officer that day," said Bill Farrell, Edlund's brother. "Kind of some of those same feelings."

Farrell said he felt that he had to come, as must for his sister as for those who did everything possible to save her and the others who were caught in the wreckage.

"A big part of this is to honor those first responders," he said. "My hat's off to them."

Firefighters told Eyewitness News that in the aftermath of the carnage 10 years ago, they desperately sought to save lives.

"And I remember my sergeant running up to me and saying grab your gear, it's bad," said Sue Kassey, one of the Avon officers on duty at the time.

The call came in around 7:30 a.m. during a busy morning commute.

Police said the dump truck driver lost control of the brakes on Route 44. The 70,000 pound vehicle barreled into a string of vehicles lined up at a stoplight.

"As an officer, you see a lot," Kassey said. "It's the worst. It was like our own mini 9/11 in Avon at the time."

Investigators said the truck involved, which was owned by David Wilcox, had a history of safety violations and should not have been on the road.

Kassey said she went on to become certified to perform commercial vehicle truck inspections. Since 2006, she said she's issued hundreds of tickets and taken more than 1,000 trucks off the road.

She said one out of every two vehicles she inspects needs to be put out of service.

Kassey said she knows her work won't change the past. She said her only hope is that it will keep future tragedies from taking place.

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