NORWALK -- A serious accident caused by one driver who blacked out behind the wheel on North Avenue just west of Westport Avenue left two women seriously injured and closed the busy two lane street for several hours Monday.
The two vehicles, a Honda Pilot sport utility vehicle and a green mini-van, crashed nearly head-on in front of the North Avenue Convenience Mart and Mobile gas station at 31 North Ave., just before 11:41 a.m.
Both vehicles were heavily damaged in the accident, which sent five people to Norwalk Hospital.
Deputy Fire Chief Gino Gatto said that the woman driving the Pilot blacked out as she was driving westbound coming down the hill from the East Avenue intersection. A woman sitting in the front passenger seat with four other passengers inside the car grabbed the wheel to keep the SUV on the road, but the woman had no way to stop or slow the car, Gatto said.
The Pilot then hit the van carrying two people, which may have been pulling out of the Mobile station and heading up the hill an instant before being hit, Gatto said.
"They were lucky that no one was killed," he said.
Norwalk Fire Department units responded to the accident in front of the Lillian August furniture store and found that two passengers and the two drivers were trapped in the vehicles, Gatto said.
As many as 17 firefighters using three jaws of life tools quickly went to work to extricate the trapped passengers. Firefighters using the jaws of life were able to cut the top of the Pilot off to rescue the driver and passenger from that car and one door was chopped off the mini-van to get the passengers out of the van.
Five people were taken to Norwalk Hospital while Norwalk police accident investigators worked to determine the cause of the accident, Gatto said. The road was reopened at 2:45 p.m. Although the two women drivers were seriously injured, Gatto said that it did not appear that their injuries were life threatening.
The woman driving the van broke one of her thigh bones and the woman driving the Pilot had other leg injuries, Gatto said. The female passenger in the Pilot who helped steer the vehicle after the driver passed out had a large cut on her head, Gatto said. A youngster in his early teens suffered a twisted ankle, Gatto said. Other injured passengers were able to walk to the ambulance.
After the North Avenue accident, more crashes were reported on Westport Avenue and on Connecticut Avenue in front of the Love Shack adult video store.