By Marianne Apfelbaum
Gravestones dating back to the 1800s were damaged on Friday night when Kathleen McGuire, 22, of Williston crashed into a section of the East Cemetery on U.S Route 2 in Williston.
McGuire was traveling west before 5 p.m. at about 40 miles per hour when she lost control of her Subaru Outback and slid off the road, according to Williston Police Sgt. Brian Claffy. The car crashed through a chain link fence and into the oldest section of the cemetery, which dates back to 1806 according to Cemetery Commission Chairman Robert Salter.
Police say alcohol was not a factor in the accident, but that the roads were slightly covered with snow and ice. The speed limit is posted at 50 miles per hour on that stretch of road. The cemetery sits at the top of a hill where the road curves slightly. “She may have been traveling a bit fast for the road conditions,” Claffy said.
McGuire, who was wearing a seatbelt, was able to climb out the passenger door and was kept warm with the help of a passerby until help arrived. She was uninjured, according to police, but the car suffered extensive damage, Claffy said.
As for the cemetery, Salter said about four 10-foot sections of fence will need to be replaced, and at least two monuments were dislodged or damaged, as well as an unknown number of grave markers. “The damage was done to some of the oldest gravestones there,” said Salter, who is “kind of in limbo” while awaiting damage estimates, which he assumes McGuire’s insurance will pay for. “I’ve been in this area 50 years,” said Salter. “I’ve never had this happen before.”