Vermont state trooper seriously injured in I-89 crash in Bethel

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BETHEL — The Vermont State Police has identified the trooper involved in a serious car crash on Interstate 89 in Bethel on Friday morning as Cpl. Eric Vitali, a 19-year veteran of the force.

Cpl. Vitali, 41, is receiving treatment at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, for serious injuries sustained in the crash.

According to initial investigations, Cpl. Vitali was traveling northbound in the left-hand, passing lane of I-89 beyond the Bethel exit at approximately 8:30 a.m. when his cruiser struck the back of a parked Bethel Volunteer Fire Department tanker truck.

The fire truck was providing scene protection for an earlier crash that had occurred at about 7:40 a.m. The force of the impact indicates the cruiser was traveling at highway speeds when the collision occurred. Cpl. Vitali was wearing his seat belt, and no one else was injured, as the fire truck was unoccupied.

The initial crash involved a Freightliner box truck driven by Matthew Black, 33, of Keene, New Hampshire. The box truck swerved suddenly to avoid a slower-moving tractor-trailer, causing the driver to lose control and roll the vehicle onto its side in the median adjacent to the northbound passing lane.

The driver was uninjured and declined medical attention.

The northbound lanes of I-89 were closed for approximately six hours following the crash. The cause of the incident involving Cpl. Vitali remains under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call the Royalton Barracks at 802-234-9933.

Cpl. Vitali joined the Vermont State Police in 2005 and has served in various roles, including as a member of the Critical Action Team, Underwater Recovery Team, and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program. He is also a firearms instructor and was previously a member of the Tactical Services Unit.

The Vermont State Police will provide updates as the investigation continues.

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