NORTH STONINGTON — Three Rhode Island residents, including a 17-year-old Westerly girl, are dead after a head-on collision involving a wrong-way driver on Interstate 95 Tuesday night.
Connecticut State Police said that the girl, Abigayl J. Lanphear, entered I-95 at Exit 93 driving south in the northbound lanes in a 2002 Mercedes Benz CLK around 7:45 p.m. Police said the car continued south, with several callers reporting a wrong-way driver, and collided with a 2017 Honda Accord in the vicinity of Exit 92 in North Stonington.
State police, firefighters from several area departments and ambulance personnel from North Stonington, Stonington, Mystic and Ashaway responded and found that all six people in the two cars were injured.
The driver of the Honda, 85-year-old Roger A. Noel of West Warwick, was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, Dorothy Noel, 83, was in the passenger seat and suffered serious injuries. She was taken by the Mystic River Ambulance Association to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, where she died from those injuries.
Lanphear was taken by personnel with the Stonington Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Rhode Island Hospital, where she died of her injuries as well.
Lanphear's passenger, Jada Laboy, 17, also of Westerly, and a back-seat passenger in the Honda, Yvonne Noel, 56, of West Kingston, were also reported to have suffered serious injuries. Yvonne Noel was taken to L+M Hospital and Laboy was treated at Rhode Island Hospital.
A second back-seat passenger in the Honda, Cynthia Plaziak, 62, also of Rhode Island, suffered minor injuries and was treated at L+M.
The state police said that Lanphear and Laboy were not wearing seat belts.
Lanphear was no longer a student in the Westerly Public Schools, having left last year to pursue a GED, according to Superintendent of Schools Mark Garceau. He learned of Lanphear’s death when Chief of Police Shawn Lacey called him at about 10 p.m. Wednesday night to inform him of the crash.
Because Lanphear had been in the Westerly system and was known by students and teachers, the district activated its crisis response team, which includes social workers and counselors. Some students at Westerly High School availed themselves of the counseling, Garceau said.
The team was activated after Garceau conducted a conference call with district and high school staff members, including Westerly High School Principal Michael Hobin, who was attending a conference in Florida.
Westerly High School parents and guardians were informed of the crash through an email sent by Hobin on Thursday morning.
“While she was not currently a WHS student, I am certain that she had friends at WHS and in the larger community. Additionally, any loss may be a trigger for others who have suffered loss in their lives, especially young adults. Please know that our guidance and support staff is prepared to support your son/daughter in any way possible today and in the days to come. Should you feel your child could use any emotional support, please do not hesitate to reach out to our guidance staff and we can direct your student to the appropriate personnel,” Hobin said in the email.
State police did not release further details of the investigation on Thursday. The case remains under investigation through the Connecticut State Police, Troop E in Montville. Anyone with information is asked to contact the troop at 860-848-6500.