Emergency crews work at the scene of a fatal accident involving a military vehicle Wednesday on southbound Interstate 95 at the ramp for Interstate 287 in Rye, Conn. (Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)
RYE, CONN. — A Connecticut National Guard soldier from Bridgeport was killed Thursday and another was seriously injured when their truck carrying spent ammunition rolled over after a collision on Interstate 95.
Ronald Patterson Jr., 43, was the passenger in a National Guard truck carrying spent ammunition to Fort Dix in New Jersey. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
Authorities have not yet released the identities of the two other people injured in the crash: the guardsman who was driving the truck and the driver of a sedan with which the truck collided.
The two-vehicle crash was reported about 10:20 a.m. and occurred in the southbound lane of I-95 at Exit 21, the connection to Interstate 287. State police said the truck and another southbound vehicle collided and the truck rolled over, ejecting both soldiers inside.
Col. Michael E. Wieczorek, chief of staff of the Connecticut Army National Guard, said the truck — known in military terms as a light medium tactical vehicle — was headed on a routine trip to Fort Dix to turn in spent ammunition from a recent training exercise. No live rounds were onboard.
Two other soldiers were riding in a van that accompanied the truck, Wieczorek said in a statement. The two vehicles had been on the road less than two hours at the time of the collision.
Wieczorek did not release any identifying information on the other soldiers, saying that civilian and military authorities were continuing their investigation.
The truck was equipped with seat belts and those traveling in the vehicle were required to wear them, said Capt. Dawn Surprenant, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut National Guard. The National Guard said investigators had not told them whether the soldiers had been wearing seat belts.
All military vehicle drivers receive 80 hours of training and must complete an annual "check ride" and safety briefing, according to Wieczorek. A valid Connecticut driver's license is also required.
The crash left the truck on its roof on the grass on the shoulder. A car with front-end damage sat on the highway facing the wrong way. Ammunition crates and spent artillery cartridge casings were strewn nearby. A 40-foot-tall light pole that had been knocked down lay partly under the truck.
The crash closed two southbound lanes of I-95 until shortly after 5 p.m., backing up traffic into Connecticut for miles.