Mass. Woman Survives Night in Wrecked Van

Mass. Woman Survives Night in Wrecked Van

News Dec 14, 2012

Dec. 14--WEST YARMOUTH -- Police are investigating a crash that may have left a young woman trapped in her wrecked minivan in a dark, wooded conservation area for eight hours.

A woman out walking her dog dialed 911 at 6:55 a.m. Thursday to report that a minivan was on its side in a wooded area off Winslow Gray Road, according to the Yarmouth police.

When firefighters arrived they found the engine was "stone cold" and the vehicle so badly damaged they couldn't immediately see anyone inside, Yarmouth fire Capt. Jonathan Sawyer said.

Then they saw a woman in the dark gray 2006 Honda Odyssey.

The van was resting on the driver's side, and the sole occupant, Megan Lynn Haley, 27, of West Yarmouth, was trapped inside, Yarmouth fire Lt. James Armstrong said.

"Extrication was lengthy and access to the patient was limited to just one arm, to which medics quickly started an IV to begin patient care," Yarmouth Fire Chief Mike Walker said in a press release.

Haley was conscious and spoke to rescuers as they worked for 30 minutes to free her, Sawyer said.

She told paramedics that the last thing she remembered was driving home at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Sawyer said.

"She also said she was cold," he added.

Sawyer did not know if she was wearing a coat.

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Aside from a head injury that did not appear severe, it's likely that she suffered from hypothermia, Sawyer said.

Hypothermia sets in after a fairly short time and certainly would have after eight hours, Sawyer said. Temperatures that night dipped into the 20s.

Symptoms of hypothermia include mental confusion. After a while a victim stops shivering, and can go into shock, Armstrong said.

Once firefighters freed Haley, they rushed her by ambulance to Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, where a Boston MedFlight helicopter was waiting to take her to Massachusetts General Hospital.

The hospital listed Haley in serious condition early in the day, but upgraded her to stable by Thursday evening, according to Yarmouth police.

As of Thursday evening, police had not been able to interview Haley to find out the time and other details of the crash, Yarmouth Detective Eric Nuss said.

No one reported her missing overnight, according to Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos.

What appeared to be holiday presents, a child's booster seat and a cellphone were found in the van after the crash, Sawyer said.

A 2003 graduate of Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Haley is a single mother of two young daughters who lives about two miles from the accident scene.

A witness who lives near that scene told detectives she heard a vehicle pass by her home at a high speed between 11 and 11:30 Wednesday night, according to a Yarmouth police press release.

"The vehicle missed the nearby guardrail and went completely off the roadway and left no skid or tire marks on the road," the release stated. "Passing motorists in the area would have little or no indication that a crash had occurred."

Haley's minivan was blocked from view by a fallen tree, which made it even more difficult for her to be discovered, Sawyer said.

It makes sense that the accident could go unnoticed, said Carolyn Skelton of 75 Winslow Gray Road.

The road is densely populated until shortly before the area where Haley crashed in a swath of woods.

Skelton pointed to a streetlight outside her house and said the town has not turned on the lights for about a year.

"This stretch of road gets very quiet and pitch black," she said.

Copyright 2012 - Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

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Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
K.C. Myers
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