Essex County

Police Update: Man and woman identified in wrong-way Salem crash

SALEM, Mass. — Two people are dead following a crash in Salem Wednesday afternoon.

The crash happened around 4:28 p.m., according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.

Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller tells Boston 25 a car went the wrong way down Highland Avenue, hitting four other vehicles.

A preliminary investigation shows a white Ford Focus driven by 91-year-old Marblehead resident James Newhall was traveling north in the southbound lane of Highland Avenue when he crashed head-on into another car.

Newhall did not survive the crash. The passenger in his car, 55-year-old Margaret Newhall, also of Marblehead, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We heard this terrible crash outside, so we looked outside,” said witness Sharon Hodgkins.

“The white car was the first one we saw which was really mangled, so we just called 911 because we knew someone had to be hurt really bad.”

“When I first got here they had the jaws of life people just peeling off the roof, trying to take the car apart to get the people out. And then I saw someone like a doctor or a medic standing on the roof of the car trying to take blood pressure, and then you didn’t see them working on the car anymore,” said Raymond Dorski, who drove up after the crash.

Crews extricated one survivor from this car and sent him to the hospital.

“It’s very scary because it could happen to you, it could happen to anybody,” said Dorski.

Miller tells Boston 25 the people in the four cars going in the right direction only had minor injuries, except for one who also went to the hospital.

Police closed Highland Avenue in both directions from Marlborough Road to Ravenna Avenue after the crash.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

“I think he was going fast if I had to guess, based on the damage to the cars,” said Miller.

The crash had lines of people pulled over just to watch what was happening, but the people who heard it already knew.

“I didn’t want to go to the car. I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” said Hodgkins.

Miller says while police were investigating this crash, police arrested a drunk driver who ignored all the flashing lights and almost hit cruisers trying to drive through here while the road was closed. Sadly, he had a young daughter in his car.

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