serious injuries in crash

Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — A 53-year-old Easthampton man is being treated for life-threatening head injuries after his van struck a utility pole on East Street early Monday morning.

The road was closed between Fort Hill Road and Route 5 from 2:30 a.m. until 1:10 p.m. while police investigated the cause of the crash.

Chang Joon Hwang, of 211 East St., Apt. 11, was listed in critical condition at Hartford Hospital Monday night, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Police Chief Bruce W. McMahon said Hwang was initially taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and was then life-flighted to Hartford Hospital. Officers heard around noon that Hwang was undergoing surgery, McMahon said.

Hwang owns Peter Rapid Cleaners, a dry cleaning business at 38 Union St., according to city records. The shop was open Monday but an employee there said he did not have any information about how Hwang is doing.

McMahon said Hwang was traveling southwest in the area of 89 East St. at 2:29 a.m. when his van veered off the right side of the road, traveled through a snow bank and then came to a stop when it struck a utility pole near the driver’s side door. It also struck a guy wire attached to the pole. Hwang was extricated from the vehicle by police officers and firefighters.

The Easthampton Police Accident Reconstruction team worked at the scene of the crash for about 10 hours to determine what caused Hwang’s vehicle left the roadway. Police Capt. Robert Alberti said at 4:30 p.m. that the cause was still under investigation.

The utility pole was damaged by the crash and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. was called to inspect and possibly replace it, McMahon said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

East Street crash photos