Head Injuries Ruled Cause of Death in Bridge Crash

A Barrington man died of "head injuries" after a serious crash on the Mt. Hope Bridge Saturday night.

The state Medical Examiner's Office has released its findings in the fatal vehicle crash Saturday night on the Mt. Hope Bridge. 

Paul L. Matthews, 63, of Heritage Road, Barrington, died Saturday night of head injuries, reports The Providence Journal. 

Warren resident Lenor C. Andrade and Portsmouth residents James and Ann Hitchen, and John and Susan Kelchner were also injured during the major crash. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening. 

State Police Capt. Frank B. Castellone says alcohol was not a factor in the crash, but police are looking into whether distracted driving or a medical issue was the cause. 

"The investigation is not complete," Castellone said. "We are awaiting the report from the Medical Examiner's Office. We are looking into whether there was a medical issue."  

The GMC van, operated by Matthews, swerved to the left and struck another vehicle head-on, according to The Providence Journal. Matthews was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, according to the article. 

The crash remains under investigation by the State Police. 

Jeffrey Jeffrey December 05, 2012 at 02:20 PM
No obituary, so I don't know if this is the Paul Matthews that grew up in Bristol with siblings Stan, Wayne & others. This is sad news.
Still Broke December 05, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Ms. Begnoche... Where does it say he died BEFORE the crash? Do you have information that Cpt. Castellone should have too? It sounds like he died as a result of the head injuries he sustained in the crash which a seatbelt MAY have protected him from. Mr. Rauschert... Although I think you may be right, you need to remember that Mr. Matthews friends and loved ones may see your comments and the 'Duh' was uncalled for and insensitive to them.
Margaret December 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
yes it is Jeffrey...Stan's brother. Very sad
Margaret December 05, 2012 at 03:46 PM
“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, COMPASSION, generosity and KINDNESS" that DUH is not in the equation
Portent December 05, 2012 at 11:13 PM
While it appears that 'head injury' was the immediate cause of Mr. Matthews's death, it appears unclear whether other medical conditions might have played a role. If the referenced Medical Examiner's report is final, it would be reasonable to assume there was no such medically relevant proximate cause, such as a cardiac event. Alternately, if the report is preliminary, then the Examiner continues to investigate the possibility of a proximate cause in addition to the head injury that immediately caused his death. The upshot is that if this is the final report, then a rational person has strong evidence to conclude that 'distracted driving' is the more probable -- and non-medical -- cause of this tragic accident. Such an inference would not change the medical judgment that a head injury linked to his failure to buckle his seat was the immediate cause of Mr. Matthews's death. What it would affect is the degree of culpability with which he should be saddled, albeit -- and sadly -- posthumously. If negligent, distracted driving does turn out to have been primary -- and fairness demands that we await further clarification, then any and all testamonials to the admirable personal qualities of this man, though interesting, would basically be irrelevant to his moral accountability, the same as would be the case if the driver were intoxicated. In both situations, the resulting accident, under a worst-case scenario, could have killed several other people, including children.


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