Driver in fatal Amherst accident was going 80 in a 35 mph zone

AMHERST – The Milford woman killed on Route 101A on Wednesday, Oct. 22, was traveling about 80 mph when she crossed into the opposite lanes, sideswiped a car, then drove into an oncoming tractor-trailer rig. The speed limit in that area is 35 mph.

Andrea J. Gage, 32, died instantly in the collision, which occurred about 12:30 p.m. about 200 yards east of Route 122, police have said. She leaves behind a son.

Multiple eyewitnesses provided accounts to police. Investigators are developing a preliminary sense of what happened from these statements, along with evidence developed by the Amherst Police Department’s accident reconstruction team. In addition, police are reconstructing the last 24 hours of the woman’s life, including where she was coming from and heading to in the final minutes of her life.

According to police, Gage was driving a Nissan sedan west on Route 101A in the area of the Buckmeadow Golf Course when the car crossed over the center line and into the eastbound lane. It sideswiped a Honda Civic sedan before colliding head-on with a tractor-trailer owned by Granite State Concrete Co. of Milford.

Police said neither driver of the two vehicles Gage struck were at fault. Police have yet to identify the two drivers.

Amherst Police Chief Mark Reams said the Nissan sustained “catastrophic damage” and Gage died on impact.

Photos posted on social media showed the mangled wreckage of the car wrapped around a guard rail on the eastbound side of Route 101A in front of a small plaza that includes Style Salon and J. August Jewelry Consignment.

The Nissan was towed to the Amherst police station where investigators are examining it, Reams said.

Amherst police are awaiting toxicological tests “to determine any potential drug or alcohol impairment.”

The state Medical Examiner’s office said they did not perform an autopsy on Gage’s body because they were asked only to
do toxicology testing. It can take up to three months to receive test results.

According to witnesses’ social media posts, the driver of the Civic was an elderly woman, and there was damage to the driver’s side of the car.

Reams said the driver of the Civic and the driver of the tractor-trailer were taken to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment of injuries he described as
not life-threatening.

A Mont Vernon resident in a Facebook post described the Nissan as “terribly mangled … definitely the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The witness said it appeared from the actions of first responders that the driver was trapped in the car and rescuers battled smoke as they worked.

Police closed Route 101A between Veterans Road and Route 122 for several hours that afternoon. The closure of one of southern New Hampshire’s heaviest-traveled thoroughfares, from early afternoon through the evening rush hour, inevitably triggered a mammoth traffic jam that stretched from South Merrimack to Milford.

Rick LaFleur, the manager of Style Salon, said he was working at the front desk on Wednesday when he suddenly felt the building shake.

“I looked out the window and saw smoke,” LaFleur said, adding that once he realized the smoke was coming from the wreckage of a car, “I grabbed the fire extinguisher we keep in the shop and ran down to where it was.”

As he approached, LaFleur said, he passed people who “were walking away from a crumpled mess.”

As part of their investigation, police reviewed video captured by the security cameras in front of the salon, LaFleur said.