Cause of Mt. Hope bridge fatality still under investigation

Rhode Island State Police are still investigating the cause of a two vehicle crash that occurred on the Mt. Hope bridge on Saturday night, leaving one man dead and five others injured.

The cause of the accident has yet to be determined, RI State Police Captain Frank Castellone, said on Tuesday.

Barrington resident, Paul L. Matthews, 63, of Heritage Road was pronounced dead at the scene after the van he was driving crashed head-on into another vehicle on the Mt. Hope Bridge on Saturday, Dec. 1 at around 6:45 p.m.

A passenger in his van, Lenor C. Andrade, of Long Lane, Warren, was transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

“It appears that alcohol does not play a factor,” Capt. Castellone said.

However, he said, investigators won’t know definitively until the toxicology report comes back.

“We’re looking into whether (Mr. Matthews) may or may not have been distracted or may have had a medical condition. We haven’t interviewed his passenger,” he said.

Ms. Andrade, the only passenger in Mr. Matthews’ vehicle, has been in the hospital since the accident and recently had surgery, Capt. Castellone said.

According to police, Mr. Matthews’ van was travelling south across the bridge when it veered across the double yellow lines and struck an oncoming car, driven by John Kelchner, 65, of Robin Road, Portsmouth.

The accident occurred on the Portsmouth side of the bridge. Both Bristol and Portsmouth emergency crews responded to aid the victims and re-route traffic until the bridge could be re-opened.

Mr. Kelchner and his wife, Susan, 58, were transported to Rhode Island Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Other passengers in the vehicle, James and Ann Hitchen of Bay View Avenue, Portsmouth, were transported to Newport Hospital, where they were treated and released.

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