PITTSFIELD – A van carrying some of the area’s most talented athletes hit a patch of ice and crashed into a ledge on Interstate 95 in Augusta early Wednesday morning.
The van was one of two vehicles taking members of the Maine Central Institute Preppers postgraduate basketball team to Boston, where they were scheduled to fly to Western Nebraska Junior College for a basketball tournament Thursday and Friday.
Julie Treadwell, MCI athletic director, said Wednesday morning that three of the seven people in the van, all outstanding ballplayers, were treated at an Augusta hospital for their injuries and brought back to the Pittsfield school, where they were resting Wednesday.
All the young men were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, according to a school spokeswoman.
The three players were identified as Eric Barkley, Kevin Braswell, and Aaron Turner.
Everyone else in the van received bumps and bruises, including two coaches, said Treadwell.
The second van continued to Boston, where coach Max Good and other players waited for the players involved in the accident to join them later in the day. Treadwell said Wednesday evening that the group in Boston was returning to Maine because the lingering ice storm made it imposssible for the remaining players to fly out of Bangor to rejoin them.
Barkley, a 6-foot-1 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., is touted as the top point guard in the country and was recently recruited by St. John’s University of New York City. Barkley received stitches to close a head wound. Treadwell said she is unsure whether Barkley will play this week.
Braswell of Baltimore received a wrist injury and is complaining of back pain, said Treadwell. It is questionable whether he will be able to play in the upcoming tournament. Braswell, also a 6-1 guard, is being recruited by Clemson, Pittsburgh, and others.
Turner, 6-7 and 230 pounds from Columbus, Ohio, was recently recruited by Xavier University in Cincinnati. Turner received a cut on his forehead above his eye and a yet-to-be-determined knee injury. Treadwell said Turner will definitely not play in the upcoming tournament and how long he will be out will depend on a full medical assessment of his knee injury.
Treadwell said she was notified by the Augusta State Police about the accident about 4:30 a.m. and went to Maine General Medical Center. She said the emergency room personnel at the hospital praised the demeanor and manners of the students.
“This is just a great group of kids,” said Treadwell.
Treadwell said she took the students back to the van to retrieve their personal belongings and that most of them “were very scared” driving on the ice-slick roads.
“They wanted me to go 5 miles an hour,” Treadwell said.