20210722-LOC-rindge crash

The section of Route 119 near Pearly Pond in Rindge was closed for more than five hours Wednesday.

RINDGE — A Fitzwilliam woman died in a fiery three-vehicle crash Wednesday morning near Pearly Pond, according to Rindge police.

Kristine Gallant, 68, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred around 9:30 a.m. on Route 119 near Quimby Drive in Rindge, police said in a news release.

Paulette Wright, 57, of Winchester, who had been driving behind Gallant, was brought to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough by private vehicle to be evaluated for neck and chest pain, the release says. The third driver involved, Jonah Ketola, 46, and his juvenile passenger did not report any injuries, according to police.

The initial investigation indicates Gallant, who was traveling east on Route 119 and became trapped inside her vehicle after the crash, may have been suffering from a medical condition when her Chevy Equinox swerved head-on into Ketola’s westbound International dump truck, according to police. The momentum of the Equinox pushed the truck across both lanes, and the Equinox also spun around, colliding with Wright’s Ford F150, the release states. All vehicles came to a stop on the eastbound shoulder of Route 119.

Rindge Police Sgt. Rachel Malynowski said Thursday morning that authorities are working with the N.H. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine Gallant’s cause of death.

Witnesses reported seeing the Equinox swerve several times prior to the collision, according to the release, which says the Equinox caught fire. Bystanders extinguished the fire prior to the arrival of first responders.

The road was closed for more than five hours while the wreckage was cleared. The dump truck had leaked diesel on the road in the surrounding area, requiring extensive cleanup, according to police.

Malynowski said crews from the Norwell, Mass.-based company Clean Harbors, will return to the scene Wednesday to continue cleanup efforts. The road will remain open throughout the day, Malynowski said, but “there may be some mild obstruction on occasion.”

Malynowski added that “it’s very unlikely” that any fuel leaked into nearby Pearly Pond, since the crash occurred across the road from the water. The state environmental services department could not be reached for more information Thursday morning.

Both the F150 and Equinox sustained significant damage, to the right rear and front end, whereas the dump truck sustained moderate damage to its front and undercarriage, the release says.

Rindge police and fire departments were assisted by police from Fitzwilliam, Troy and Jaffrey, N.H. State Police, Jaffrey Ambulance, and fire crews from Jaffrey, Fitzwilliam and the Massachusetts towns of Winchendon and Ashby. Also responding were the Rindge Highway Department, the N.H. Department of Transportation and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services.

The crash remains under investigation.

Witnesses with any additional information are asked to contact Rindge police Sgt. Rachel Malynowski at 899-5009, extension 15, or 355-2000.