On January 18, 2023

Killington community finds missing dog involved in car crash

By Katy Savage

When a dog went missing in the woods after a car crash in Killington, about 40 people teamed up to find him. 

They printed fliers, organized search teams, hiked day and night and flew drones.

They found the dog two days later. 

Arlo, a 1-year-old pit bull mixed breed, was found near the Killington Deli and Markett place on Jan. 15. 

“I was ecstatic. It was exciting. There were so many people out there looking for this puppy,” said Val Hannan, who manages the deli.

Lynne Aylesworth, a manager at Chalet Killington, saw Arlo as she pulled into the parking lot. She parked her car, opened her door and called the dog, according to Nancy Koch, who owns the deli. Aylesworth brought Arlo to the front of the store and held him in her lap.

Koch said Arlo was brought to a vet shortly after.

“He was a little chilly, definitely hungry and tired but he was wagging his tail,” Koch said. “I think he was happy to be in the back seat of a car. He was in great shape.”

Arlo was in a head-on collision around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 when the pickup truck he was in collided with a tractor trailer. 

According to police, Joseph Ceccacci of Killington, the owner of Arlo, was traveling west on Route 4 in the passing lane heading up Sherburne pass near Winterberry Road in a 2005 Dodge Ram pickup. Witnesses told police Ceccacci’s vehicle went into a spin and contacted a tractor trailer that was traveling east down the hill.

Ceccacci’s vehicle spun around  three times before stopping in a ditch, police said witnesses had reported. Ceccacci was ejected from his vehicle and found lying unconscious beside it where he was administered medical attention by bystanders. Arlo was seen running into the woods near Winterberry Road just after the crash.

The tractor trailer, operated by Hunter Daniels, attempted to brake but due to icy conditions, traveled across both westbound lanes before hitting the ditch, police said. 

Daniels was not injured in the crash, according to police, while Ceccacci was transported via ambulance to Rutland Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

Daniels told police he had been hauling water but the truck was currently empty. The tanker came to rest blocking both westbound lanes. Traffic in both directions was stopped for approximately two hours before opening up to one lane of travel and then intermittently closed while wreckers positioned for safe removal of both vehicles. 

Ceccacci’s vehicle was towed by Killington Auto. The tractor trailer was removed by Lyman’s Towing of Royalton after emergency officials worked to separate the tractor and trailer.

Off-duty Fair Haven Police Officer Cheri Mcdermott hiked into the woods in an effort to find Arlo  just after the crash but could not find him.

Many of Ceccacci’s friends worked day and night over Martin Luther King weekend to search for Arlo. 

“People take their dogs very seriously here in Vermont and particularly here in the community of Killington where everybody does a very good job of looking out for each other,” Jim Lewis of Killington said as he searched Gifford Woods State Park for Arlo the afternoon of Jan. 14.

When he was finally found, it was emotional for some. Ceccacci’s friend Kevin Olaynack said he was moved to tears. 

“This is our community. We are one big family,” Olaynack said. “We all just stick together, and when someone is hurting, we pick them up, and when someone is in need, we take care of them.”

Koch, a friend of Ceccacci’s, said they were just about to set up a feeding station Arlo before he was found. 

Koch said she drove around most of Saturday and Sunday searching for Arlo.

“It’s one of those things where everyone has the feeling of one more,” she said. “We would never regret that one more drive at night.” 

Ceccacci, who was awake and conscious at the hospital, was immediately told Arlo had been found.

“Joe is very happy,”  said Koch just after Arlo was found. “His whole family is in tears in the hospital right now, but they are all very very happy. It’s great; it’s awesome.” 

Koch said Ceccacci  is in “good spirits” and expected to make a full recovery.

“He has a lot of broken parts but he’s on the mend,” said Koch, explaining Ceccacci has a broken rib, a collapsed lung and broken collarbone. 

“All he was ever asking about was Arlo,” Koch said. “He just wanted updates and leads as much as possible.” 

A Go Fund Me has been started to help Ceccacci’s recovery. About $35,000 had been raised as of Jan. 17.

“This community is one of a kind honestly. A lot of people come together when they need to, especially in a time of need and hardship,” Koch said.

Victoria Gaither contributed to this report. 

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