Two young New Hampshire women who were making their first visit to Martha’s Vineyard are recovering after sustaining serious injuries in a collision with a dump truck in a horrific moped accident Saturday afternoon on Barnes Road that left seasoned first responders shaken.
The 19-year-old driver, Noelle Lambert, from Manchester, N.H., lost her leg, and might have lost her life at the scene but for quick action by passersby and quick-arriving EMTs. She was transferred by MedFlight to Boston Medical Center, where she is recovering.
From her hospital bed Wednesday, Noelle said she was grateful to the people “who basically saved my life.”
“I wish I’d gotten their names,” she said. “Like the nurse that was driving by or the guy who put the shirt on my leg — they saved my life. I’m so thankful and grateful to them.”
Her friend and 19-year-old passenger, Kelly Moran, from Newfields, N.H., also sustained serious leg injuries, and underwent surgery at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on Saturday. She was released Sunday, and is recovering at home.
Both women were three-sport star athletes in high school, and attend the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where they play on the lacrosse team.
The two girls were riding on one moped, traveling south on Barnes Road in the direction of Martha’s Vineyard Airport about 12:35 pm, when the moped operator went onto the shoulder of the road, overcorrected, and lost control near the entrance to the Vineyard Youth Tennis Center, and struck the side of a dump truck operated by Brant Augustus Ben David of West Tisbury, police said.
Mr. Ben David saw the moped driver lose control and was able to stop, but was unable to avoid the collision, Oak Bluffs Police Sergeant Steve Conley told The Times. The moped struck the truck near the fender section.
Sergeant Conley said Mr. Ben David was not at fault. “It was just unfortunate,” he said.
Will play again
On Wednesday, Noelle’s mother, Judy Lambert, said her daughter was expected to begin rehabilitation in a few days and was in good spirits.
Ms. Lambert said the family wanted to thank everyone who rushed to her daughter’s aid “from the bottom of our hearts.”
Noelle told her mother that a female nurse who was jogging by assisted at the scene as well. She said, “They were all amazing, even some of the people who were on the scene who weren’t medical personnel, who helped to calm her down, and the gentleman who provided his shirt for a tourniquet.”
“I can’t thank them enough, and we’d like to find out their names so we can show them our appreciation,” she said.
Asked how Noelle is holding up, Ms. Lambert said, “She’s doing amazing. She got up today with the walker for the first time.” Ms. Lambert said the doctors expect to release her daughter in a few days to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center.
Ms. Lambert said initially her daughter, a Division One lacrosse athlete at UMass Lowell, was devastated, but now her attitude is positive. “Now she’s saying she’s going to get back on the field again. Her coach was here today, and they’re going to work with her and try and get her back on the field — even the athletic director at UMass Lowell said that she could be a student coach, so they’ve been wonderful.”
Never lost consciousness
Ms. Lambert said she and her husband were at home preparing to leave for a cookout when she received a call on her cellphone with a 508 area code she didn’t recognize.
“It was a woman who had come upon the scene. My daughter, she grabbed the woman’s hand and asked her to call her mother, and gave her my phone number, so the woman called, and she was so upset and she was saying, ‘Just hurry, get here, get here — I don’t think she’s gonna make it.’”
Ms. Lambert said, “I just screamed.”
Nicolle, who never lost consciousness, asked the woman for the phone and spoke to her mother. “She came on the phone and kept apologizing because I told her I didn’t want her to rent a moped. I had been on one a few years ago in Bermuda and you know, I had heard the horror stories — a woman had lost her leg who had worked at our hotel; she had gone down an embankment, so I knew how dangerous they are. So she was apologizing to me that she had rented the moped.”
Noelle told her mother on the phone, “I lost my leg.”
Noelle has three older brothers and is the youngest child in the family. In her freshman year, Noelle led her team in goals. She and Kelly have been friends for about six years, played high school lacrosse together, and are college roommates.
They were visiting their friend from college who works as a hostess for the summer. They rented the moped to go to the beach that day because their friend had to work. Ms. Lambert said she’d never been to the Island before, but she’s “wanted to go for years.”
Noelle has an uncle, one of her father’s nine brothers, who lost both legs to diabetes. “He’s been at the hospital every day, giving her guidance and telling her what to expect, so it’s been a big help,” Ms. Lambert said. “You don’t prepare for these things, but we’re trying to have a positive attitude.”
‘Have fun, come back safe’
The moped was rented by Ride On Mopeds of Oak Bluffs, co-owned by Jason Leone.
“I feel terrible about the accident,” Mr. Leone told The Times Sunday outside his rental shop on Circuit Avenue Extension. Mr. Leone said the girls completed the required safety course, which includes a video and a brief riding test around the block where the rental shop is located.
Mr. Leone, who owns rental businesses in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, estimated he annually rents thousands of mopeds, and has a good safety record, comparable to other modes of rental transportation. Last summer he said there were fewer than 12 accidents, none serious.
An Oak Bluffs volunteer firefighter, he said he is familiar with accident scenes. “I want people to go out and have fun and come back safe,” Mr. Leone said. “The accident is very unfortunate. I feel badly for the families and the girls. It’s an unfortunate situation, and I am thankful to the fire department. They did a good job. No one wants to roll up on that, but that’s why we’re there — to help.”
‘Held themselves together’
Oak Bluffs Fire and EMS Chief John Rose was one of the first to respond to the accident scene. Mr. Rose, a veteran firefighter and emergency medical first responder who has seen his share of accidents, said, “It was extremely difficult.”
Chief Rose said there was a tremendous response from the volunteer department. “Within minutes of the call, we had an abundance of EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters there,” he said.
Chief Rose said the call was made for MedFlight from the accident scene. “When the most critical patient arrived at the ER, MedFlight was only minutes away,” he said. “It came together really well from that aspect, but it was extremely difficult, that’s for sure.”
Chief Rose said it is difficult to find the words to describe the emotions that accompany this type of situation. He said he knows the young woman is facing a long road, but she is alive and in good care, and that is cause for some satisfaction.
Chief Rose said the members of the department displayed a high level of skill and professionalism under very trying conditions. “It really makes a difference in the outcome in situations like that,” he said. “They held themselves together in a situation that ordinary people will never see that we have to.”
Two years ago
While less serious moped injuries occur with some regularity, the last fatal moped accident occurred two years ago on July 2, 2014, when Alexandro Garcia, 22, of Springfield lost control of the moped he was operating on South Road in Chilmark and drove into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.
The driver had just left work at the Grey Barn Farm and pulled out of the driveway on his way down-Island. Mr. Garcia was driving up-Island when he went off the road on the right side, tried to correct, and crossed into the oncoming traffic, police said.