Chang Joon Hwang of Easthampton still in critical condition after Monday accident

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — The city man who suffered a severe head injury in a car accident on East Street remained in critical condition at Hartford Hospital on Tuesday as police tried to determine what caused the crash.

Chang Joon Hwang, 53, of 211 East St., Apt. 11, was driving southwest near 89 East St. at 2:30 a.m. Monday when his van drifted off the right side of the road and struck a utility pole and guy wire, according to police. He was extricated from the vehicle, taken by ambulance to Baystate Medical Center and then by Life Flight to Hartford Hospital.

The road was closed for approximately 10 hours while the Easthampton Police Accident Reconstruction Team worked to map out the scene and find out why Hwang’s vehicle left the road.

“We’re looking at everything,” Police Chief Bruce W. McMahon said Tuesday. “It’s too early to determine a cause.”

McMahon said that it may be a month before the accident reconstruction report is finished, but investigators have been able to rule out a few possible causes.

After examining the road for tire marks and other debris and Hwang’s vehicle for paint marks, they do not believe his van went off the road due to another vehicle, McMahon said. There are no potholes in the area, either, he said. Police have not determined if mechanical failure or operator error were factors.

Hwang’s van has been impounded as part of the investigation, McMahon said. However, he said that commercial vans such as the 2003 Ford Econoline van Hwang was driving do not have so-called black boxes. If the van had an event-recording device, it might provide details about what happened at the time of the crash.

Hwang owns Peter Rapid Cleaners, a dry cleaning business at 38 Union St.

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