SALISBURY - Alcohol appears to have played a part in a fatal head-on collision that claimed the life of a female passenger last night just before the new year on the south side of the Route 1 Gillis Bridge.
As of early this afternoon, law enforcement officials had not released the victim's identity as her family had yet to be notified, according to Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler.
At the same time police were frantically looking to notify the victim's family, they were also trying to determine where the Lincoln Town Car that was traveling the wrong way over the Gillis Bridge from Newburyport into Salisbury had come from.
The department's accident reconstruction team led by Sgt. Robert Roy is still trying to piece together where the wayward car had begun its journey.
What they do know is that the Town Car was traveling on Merrimac Street in Newburyport and took a left-hand turn, heading north into Salisbury via the southbound side of the divided Route 1 bridge over the Merrimack River, Fowler said.
The Town Car almost made it across the bridge before striking a motorist driving a Mercury Grand Marquis that was heading south from Salisbury into Newburyport.
"It's pretty clear how it happened," Fowler said.
According to police, the victim was one of two passengers in the Town Car traveling the wrong way on the connector bridge between Salisbury and Newburyport.
All four people involved sustained injuries and were transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport. The female victim appears to have been pronounced dead at the Highland Avenue hospital, according to police.
Newburyport firefighters, led by Lt. Barry Salt, were the first to arrive at the scene, followed by Salisbury firefighters and police officers from both communities. Rescue units were at the scene for nearly three hours before clearing and the southbound side of the bridge was closed for a time.
Salisbury firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate at least one of the victims in the two-car crash, according to Salisbury fire Chief Richard Souliotis.