Rhode Island man charged in Northfield crash that sent 8 to hospitals

  • Emergency responders at the scent of a crash involving an SUV and five motorcycles in Northfield on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2022 4:04:04 PM
Modified: 5/30/2022 4:04:06 PM

NORTHFIELD – Police have charged the driver behind the wheel of an SUV that allegedly crossed over the center lane and struck five motorcycles, causing serious injuries to eight people, on Routes 5 and 10 in Northfield on Sunday.

Ryan O’Farrell, 32, of Westerly, Rhode Island, was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with seven counts of operating under the influence of drugs causing serious bodily injury; operating under the influence of drugs; two counts of child endangerment; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operating an unregistered motor vehicle. Two children, ages 11 and 12, were in the vehicle and were transported to the hospital, but appeared to be uninjured, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

The DA’s office said at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, O’Farrell was allegedly operating an SUV pulling a trailer carrying a motorcycle near 272 Main St. heading south when he crossed over the center lane and struck five motorcycles – traveling as a part of a Connecticut Motorcycle Club – heading north in the oncoming lane. Eight people were transported to area hospitals, including two who are in critical condition at University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. The injured were operators and passengers on the motorcycles and two people were airlifted from the scene by helicopter for medical treatment.

The crash was reported by nearby residents John and Terri Drisdelle. John Drisdelle said they went to see what was going on after hearing a loud bang followed by what “almost sounded like a party at first.”

“It sounded like you could hear music and people yelling,” he said, “so that’s why we went down there.”

He saw that the SUV was “almost V-shaped in the way it was smashed.” Terri Drisdelle said she saw people both in the road and on the side of the road amid leaked gas and motorcycle parts strewn about.

Among the first responders at the scene include, Northfield EMS; firefighters from Northfield and Turners Falls; Northfield, Gill and Philipston police departments; State Police detectives; the state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction team and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section. The crash remains under investigation.

O’Farrell is being held on $250,000 bail and will be arraigned in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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