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Fatal accident in Norfolk Dec. 30

NORFOLK – A Naugatuck, Conn. man died Dec. 30 in what was termed by local emergency personnel as one of the worst accidents they have ever seen.

A 911 call came in at 3:21 p.m. immediately after residents on Route 44 heard the crash that occurred about halfway between the North Canaan town line and Ashpohtag Road. According to police, a 2004 Cadillac Escalade driven west by John Maida, 50, had drifted into the oncoming lane. It collided head­-on with a 2013 Hino box truck owned by Cintas Corp.

Maida was pronounced dead at the scene after the arrival of a paramedic. His passenger, Cynthia Corker­-Cherry, 53, of the same Naugatuck address, was flown by LifeStar helicopter to Hartford Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

Truck driver Serguei Palatkin, 27, of Bristol, Conn. was taken to Sharon Hospital with minor injuries.

The impact demolished the left side of the SUV. The driver’s door was ripped from the car and remained embedded in the front, driver’s side of the truck after it came to a stop some distance down the road.

Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department and Canaan Fire Company rescuers set to work cutting the SUV apart to free the victims. A North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps crew and ambulance, with a paramedic on board, was just completing a transport to Sharon Hospital and were summoned to the scene. The extrication was completed just as LifeStar landed.

Both lanes of Route 44 were initially closed. On the North Canaan side, a detour was set up onto Canaan Valley Road. But as the severity of the tragedy and the need for more manpower and equipment became known, the road was blocked off at Route 7 (by the fire house) five miles from the scene. The road opened at 8 p.m. following an investigation by the State Police Accident Reconstruction Team, according to Jonathan Barbagallo, public information officer for NVFD. A cause has not yet been determined.

Winsted and Sheffield fire personnel were called in on standby.

Emergency responders were invited to participate in a critical incident stress debriefing that evening.