By Dave Rogers
---- — AMESBURY — A state trooper working a detail on Interstate 495 in Amesbury Tuesday morning was sent to the hospital after the cruiser he was sitting in was struck by a box truck.
Kenneth Gaetz, who is a member of the state police’s media relations department, was treated and released from Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport that same day, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The driver of the box truck, Seldon A. Towles, 66, of Richmond, Va., was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene after property damage and two breakdown lane violations.
According to state police, the box truck, owned by M&L Transport of Pennsylvania, sideswiped Gaetz’s cruiser as it was idling in the breakdown lane. As a precaution, Gaetz was transported to Anna Jaques for evaluation. Gaetz’s cruiser and the box truck were towed from the scene.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Gaetz was watching over guardrail repairs, specifically guardrail end treatments damaged over the winter. The job was being performed by DeLucca Fence. Guardrail work of that type is conducted by several crews working along a common stretch of highway. Typically, these roving crews are protected by advanced warning signs, electronic arrow signs, cones and police details.
Tuesday’s incident occurred in the breakdown lane of I-495 north area between Route 110 (exit 55) and the point where the highway meets Interstate 95 north. Work at the particular location had been completed and the contractor was picking up the traffic setup to move to the next location.
The contractor was getting ready to hook up to the arrow board to his truck when the incident happened. After striking the arrow board, Towles’ vehicle apparently came into contact with the detail trooper’s vehicle some distance down the roadway, according to MassDOT.