Government Police/Fire

[Updated] State Police: Evasive Action By Driver of Antique Car Helps Mitigate Damage and Injury from Crash in West Hartford

After crossing the road, jumping the curb, running over a sign and a light pole, this 1964 Chrysler New Yorker came to rest just at the edge of the Trout Brook embankment. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

[Updated, Aug. 4, 2017] The driver of a 1964 Chrysler New Yorker experienced brake failure on the exit 43 off-ramp of I-84 on Thursday , July 20.

By Ronni Newton

Updated, Aug. 4, 2017

Connecticut State Police have released their report on an incident that occurred on July 20, one that began when the driver of a 1964 Chrysler New Yorker lost her brakes while exiting I-84 at exit 43 in West Hartford.

According to State Police, at the time of the incident the driver of a 2012 Honda Civic had come to a stop in the right turning lane at the light at the end of the exit ramp, waiting to turn east onto Park Road.

Police said that Renee Dubin, 88, of West Hartford, was driving the New Yorker, which was owned by her daughter, and she was coming up behind the Honda Civic on the ramp when she realized that the vehicle had suffered full brake failure.

According to police, Dubin took evasive action to avoid striking the Civic, by going into the grass shoulder. She hit several D.O.T. signs before sideswiping the Civic, “then continued through the Park Road intersection out of control without hitting any vehicles and continued until striking a tree and light pole,” the police report states.

Police said that while Dubin was found to be responsible for the crash, their report stated “without [Dubin] taking evasive action by leaving the roadway to avoid striking several vehicles and successfully negotiating the Park Road intersection, this accident would have been more serious in nature and serious injuries would have been sustained.”

The driver of the Civic was not injured. Dubin was transported to St. Francis Hospital by AMR ambulance with what police said were non-life-threatening injuries.

Original Story

Police and fire officials say that brake failure appears to be the cause of a crash Thursday afternoon which sent an 88-year-old driver of a 1964 Chrysler New Yorker to the hospital with what were described as minor injuries.

West Hartford Police Capt. Jeff Rose said that Renee Dubin, 88, of West Hartford, was exiting I-84 at exit 43 (Park Road) when she told police that her brakes appeared to have failed.

The incident happened at 12:50 p.m. Thursday.

Rose said that Dubin struck two vehicles, including a Honda Civic, that were stopped at the light waiting to turn onto Park Road, and then careened across Park Road, jumped the curb, crossed the sidewalk on the north side of Park Road just to the west of the footbridge over Trout Brook, and hit a light pole before coming to rest at the embankment heading down to the brook.

The light pole, which was completely destroyed by the crash, appeared to have stopped the car.

West Hartford Fire Department Capt. John Brice said before officials could remove the driver’s side door to extricate the driver, the car had to be stabilized because it was precariously perched and could have fallen further down the embankment.

Dubin was transported to an area hospital with what were described as “luckily only minor injuries.” She did not have any passengers in her vehicle.

No one else was injured in the crash, which occurred in the middle of the day at a very busy intersection.

The Chrysler New Yorker as well as the Honda Civic, were towed from the scene.

State Police are handling the investigation because the crash originated on the I-84 exit ramp.

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A 1964 Chrysler New Yorker came to rest just at the edge of the Trout Brook embankment. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The 1964 Chrysler New Yorker crossed park Road, hit a sign and a light pole, before it came to rest just at the edge of the Trout Brook embankment. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A 1964 Chrysler New Yorker came to rest just at the edge of the Trout Brook embankment. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Honda Civic was one of two vehicles struck before the Chrysler New Yorker crossed Park Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Honda Civic was one of two vehicles struck before the Chrysler New Yorker crossed Park Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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  • I’m writing in response to your article yesterday about the “elderly woman” involved in a car crash, a headline that shrills “Elderly Woman of Antique Car…”

    I know this woman, Renee Dubin, personally, and I’m glad that I do because otherwise I would have the impression that an old woman driving an “antique” car was involved in an accident because she was “elderly” which, your article implies, means she was too old to be driving.

    Renee is 30 years my senior and is sharper than I am. It was her quick thinking that saved lives as, when she realized the car she was driving (which is her daughter’s car, by the way, a woman who is nowhere near elderly) had no brakes. None. She pressed the brakes as she was exiting the highway and her foot went to the floor.

    As she told me later she cares about people, not things, and she had the presence of mind to swerve the brakeless car to avoid people and instead hit road signs and a light pole, injuring no one but herself.

    I can understand calling her injuries “minor”, but they’re minor in the sense that they don’t cause the author of the article any pain. Her injuries are not life-threatening but are not “minor.” Out of respect for her privacy I won’t list them here, but they are requiring a stay in the hospital, at least overnight and possibly longer.

    Renee Dubin is a sharp, lovely, curious, intelligent person with an even sharper sense of humor. She was the calmest person in the ER and had me laughing out loud on several occasions, and tried to keep everyone calm around her. She comes from a superior generation than my own, a generation that doesn’t complain and accepts responsibility. I’m proud to know her and call her my friend.

    Renee Dubin has been a vital and productive part of the Hartford community for decades, and no doubt that will continue. It will take more than a car with no brakes to keep her down.

    • Thank you for your comment. Regarding the nature of Mrs. Dubin’s injuries, the only information I had was what the police and fire officials provided. They said her injuries were minor, and that is what I reported. I was also led to believe that she was the owner of the car, which may have been an assumption made by the officials at the scene who thought perhaps she was the original owner of a beautiful vehicle that all were sad to see in such a mangled state. The article did not say, nor did it intend to imply, that her age was the cause of the incident, rather that according to the officials at the scene it appeared to be brake failure. There are several comments on a Facebook post regarding that type of vehicle, and the way that brake failure likely could occur more commonly than it would in a newer vehicle.

      I ran along that very sidewalk earlier on Thursday, and it’s scary to think that someone could have been walking or running by that very spot as the car crossed over the road and sidewalk. I noted that it was remarkable that there were no other injuries.

      I hope that Mrs. Dubin makes a full recovery from any injuries that she sustained. She sounds like a wonderful woman!


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