Benson boy remains hospitalized after crash
By Brent Curtis
staff writer | January 28,2014
A 10-year-old Benson boy remains hospitalized in serious condition Monday while Vermont State Police continue to search for clues to the cause of the snowmobile crash that injured the youth and killed a man riding with him.
Brian Norton suffered internal and lower extremity injuries when the snowmobile he was riding on near Trinity Farm in Benson on Sunday crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer truck driving on Route 22A.
Forty-eight-year-old Mark Lussier of Benson, who police say was sitting behind Norton on a 1994 Polaris snowmobile while trying to give the boy a lesson in operating the machine, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brian was taken by DHART helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he was listed in serious condition Monday evening.
The cause of the crash remains unclear.
State Police Trooper Stephanie Shaw and Sgt. Mark Perkins said that Lussier, who was described as a friend of Brian’s family, was trying to give the boy a lesson in operating a snowmobile. Lussier, who Perkins described as an experienced snowmobile rider, was sitting behind the boy and helping him to operate the machine. Brian was wearing a helmet while Lussier was not, police said.
While riding across the lawn at 5442 Route 22A Sunday afternoon, the sled veered off the property and over a snowbank that borders the road. The snowmobile launched into the air and collided with the truck roughly 5 feet up the side of the trailer.
The driver of the tractor trailer, 58-year-old Christopher Fionda of Swanton, was uninjured in the crash. Perkins said Monday Fionda saw the snowmobile coming toward the road and tried to swerve but could not avoid the collision.
What caused the snowmobile to veer into the road remained a mystery Monday.
Police say alcohol and drugs were not a factor in the crash. A mechanical defect with the snowmobile has not been ruled out although Perkins said police have not yet arranged to have the heavily damaged remains of the vehicle examined.
Perkins said police were also conducting interviews with other witnesses to the crash.
A dozen police, fire and ambulance crews responded to the scene Sunday including state police, and police from Fair Haven and Castleton; firefighters from Benson, Fair Haven, West Haven and Orwell and emergency crews from Benson, Fair Haven, Orwell and Regional Ambulance Service. Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles was also called to the scene.
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call state police at 773-9101.