Connecticut State Police have identified the two people killed in the motor vehicle crash that closed Interstate 95 in Old Lyme for seven hours on Wednesday.
A tractor-trailer was stopped due to a traffic backup in the right lane on the northbound side of I-95 around Exit 71 around 2 p.m., police said. A Ford Mustang was stopped behind that vehicle.
Police said a dump truck that was towing an excavator was traveling northbound in the right lane and "was braking heavily" when approaching the Mustang.
During their investigation, police said the dump truck was "unable to stop" and crashed into the back of the Mustang. The crash caused the Mustang to "then burst into flames."
The two people inside in the Mustang, 71-year-old Guilford resident Eleanor A Mccarthy and 72-year-old Ambler, Pa resident Iris Cooper, were killed in the crash.
“This always hits you right in the heart,” Old Lyme First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder said. "It's difficult to deal with, and we've just had far too many."
Reemsnyder said the crash makes her sad and angry. She added the stretch on I-95 between exits 70 and 72 have far too many wrecks, and they impact everyone who lives here.
“When we hear there's an accident we all reach out to our kids to our family to see where are you, what are you doing, and are you safe,” Reemsnyder said.
Aside from the danger on I-95, Reemsnyder said the wrecks also create other issues in Old Lyme. She worries about the strain the crashes put on local emergency responders and added smaller roads become dangerously dense with traffic afterwards.
“We are just in gridlock, we have Route 156 is all backed up, Route 1 is all backed up,” Reemsnyder said. "If you're trying to come up out of the side roads you stand there waiting for a long time to get out, and we risk more accidents happening from all that traffic."
The crash closed the highway between exits 70 and 71 for several hours.The highway reopened by 9:30 p.m.
“It slowed down and there were big signs on the highway saying delays accident,” Susanne Duffey, of Danielson, said.
Duffey said she sat in traffic for about an hour on her way ride home to Danielson. It was frustrating, but when she learned that two people died in the fiery wreck, the delay didn't seem like a big deal in comparison.
“I can't get that bothered about it, it's just a little minor bother compared to what's going on,” Duffey said.
Town leaders said the state paid for safety enhancements on the stretch of highway recently, but Reemsnyder said the crashes haven't seemed to slow down.
“I'm not a traffic engineer so I couldn't tell you what the answer is but somebody should be looking at this closely,” Reemsnyder said.
The cause of Wednesday's crash remains under investigation by Connecticut State Police. Anyone with any information is asked to call Connecticut State Police at 860-399-2100.
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.