Karina Barriga Albring
News Editor

The last weekend in town for most Keene State College students started with a fatality. A car crash involving a trailer carrying fuel killed two people and injured one on Friday, May 3 around 10.30 a.m. on Route 12 North in Keene.
The two victims were identified as Douglas Farr Jr., 32 and Erin Breault, 35, both from Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Farr and Breault were travelling south on Route 12 in a 2011 Hyundai. According to a press release by the Keene Police Department, Farr was operating the vehicle. The collision occurred when the Hyundai crossed the centerline of the road into the path of the tractor trailer unit, which was traveling north. KPD identified the trailer driver as Jeffrey J. Cloran, 54, of Becket, Massachusetts. He was transported to the Cheshire Medical Center for treatment for his injuries and released later on Friday.
The tractor trailer was operated by JP Noonan Transportation. Police indicated that the trailer was fully loaded with approximately 5000 gallons of petroleum products.
KPD Lieutenant Christopher Stewart said due to the collision, the trailer caught fire rupturing one of the trailer fuel cells. Stewart indicated the fire did not reach the Hyundai. According to the Keene Sentinel, the car and the trailer ended up with about 300 to 500 feet apart after the collision. The Sentinel quoted a witness on the scene, “The passenger car was obliterated, it didn’t even look like a car.” Witnesses reported hearing various explosions after the collision. Lt. Stewart from KPD said what exploded was not the compartment of the trailers, but its tires due to the heat. Chief of the Keene Fire Department Mark Howard told The Sentinel that the compartments of the trailer were aluminum, which melted, and that he did not believe the truck’s saddle tanks exploded.
The Keene Police Department indicated that it took approximately one hour for members of the Keene Fire Department, with the assistance of multiple other jurisdictions, to control and render the scene safe to approach.
Shortly after the crash was reported, the police closed Routes 9, 10 and 12.  According to  Lt. Stewart, one of the reasons for closing the roads was the risk of an explosion, “Because of the amount of fuel the trailer carried.”
Stewart also stated the closing of the roads  was indented to redirect traffic in a more effective way. “The area where the crash occurred is very transited. We couldn’t just close the surrounding  of the accident because cars would have been stuck there without an alternative route to take.” Traffic was an issue Friday as many of the cars entered the city of Keene due to the closure of the roads. A UNICCO worker called her daughter around noon and said: “The roads around the college and most roads in Keene are very congested, the only thing I hear are sirens, you are better staying home today.”

KPD  informed that the Routes 9, 10 and 12 were reopened Friday around 8 p.m. Regarding the environmental impact of the fuel spilled on Route 12, an official from the city of Keene indicated that the Keene Department of Public Works will be taking part in the cleaning process. According to an article in The Keene Sentinel, a representative from JP Noonan said that a safety official was sent to the scene of the accident.

The Sentinel reported that Howard said between 100 and 150 gallons of fuel leaked from the truck’s two tanks.  Some of that diesel fuel ran onto the road, while the rest drained into a tributary of the Ashuelot River on the east side of Route 12. According to The Sentinel, Howard said the spill was contained within 20 feet of where it entered the tributary, and didn’t get into the Ashuelot River. However, the risk of water contaminations remain present. According to a study conducted by environmental experts at Utah State University, one gallon of gasoline can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of water.

Environmental studies professor at KSC Timothy Allen expressed that the cleaning process after a fuel spill needs to be completed right away. “Oil booms like the ones used Friday can help clean up because oil floats on the water. I know the Keene Fire Department was there. It is important to complete the process as soon as possible because the contamination can easily spread,” Allen said. However, Allen said some components of gasoline might not be able to be captured in with oil booms. “Some particular components are soluble in water, some are toxic and can damage the ecosystem,” Allen stated. According to the Sentinel, the spokesman for the N.H. Department of Environmental Services James Martin said on the scene, the spill response team used a “containment boom” device to prevent more fuel from making it into or through the storm drain.

Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at

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