April 05, 2020

New storm causes rash of accidents > Interstate transformed into a skating rink

BANGOR — As if 14 days of dealing with the most devastating storm to hit Maine in decades were not enough, emergency workers and public works and power crews were back at it Tuesday dealing with a powerful snowstorm that dropped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the state.

The amount of moisture in the snowfall combined with 20-degree temperatures to make for “unbelievably slippery” road conditions for commuters Tuesday night.

The snow turned Interstate 95 into a skating rink, according to officials dealing with the dozens of accidents late in the afternoon.

One police dispatcher in Penobscot County quipped, “I think we’ve had 1,543” accidents. “It’s just unbelievable out there.”

In Bangor more than 30 accidents occurred in a 2 1/2-hour period, prompting the Police Department to hold over its daytime crew into the evening to aid in the accident response effort. Traffic near the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge in Brewer was chaotic as cars slipped and slid through the Wilson Street intersection.

Making the situation worse were the high snowbanks that narrowed some roadways to one lane.

Bangor Police Department ordered all parked cars off public roads in the city by 6 p.m. to allow room for public works snowplows that were having a difficult time maneuvering the narrow streets of the city.

Just as some of the remaining customers in eastern Maine were getting their electricity back after the ice storm, power once again flickered and in some cases went out.

Power outages were reported in the Glenburn and Exeter areas, on outer Broadway in Bangor and near Machias.

“There is a heightened sensitivity out there, causing people to go `Uh-oh, here we go again,”‘ said Bill Cohen, spokesman for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., speaking on a local radio station. “But I just called into the office and our transmission systems are fine. … These outages that are occurring now are normal under these snow conditions.”

Cohen said utility trucks would be dispatched to outages caused by the snowstorm and power should be restored relatively quickly.

The power crews responding to Tuesday night’s outages have had no chance to rest up from their 14-day effort to restore power to customers who were blacked out by the ice storm, Cohen said.

Snow fell steadily in Bangor throughout the day, picking up in intensity by the midafternoon.

Eric Sinsabaugh of the National Weather Service said the snow was not unexpected and that despite the heavy snowfall, Maine still missed the heart of the huge storm system that “was way off to the south.”

“What you’re getting in Bangor is the wraparound moisture from that system,” he said.

John Russell of Bangor Public Works said the biggest problem the city’s crews were facing was getting the huge city plows down the narrowed streets.

“There is so much snow on the side of the roads that it’s difficult for these plows to get around if there are cars parked on the roads,” Russell said.

In Newport

Slushy driving conditions Tuesday caused two trucks to leave the road in Newport.

Greydon Turner, 52, of St. Albans lost control in the slush on the Williams Road while driving a Chevrolet pickup. The truck left the road and struck a pole, damaging the left side of the vehicle. Turner was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

Later in the day, Sidney Beem, 48, of Stetson lost control of a tractor-trailer hauling logs on the Stetson Road. Beem struck a pole, snapping it in half and knocking out power temporarily. Crews from Central Maine Power stood by for two hours waiting to make repairs, according to Newport Police Chief James Ricker.

In Camden

In Camden, slippery roads during rush hour kept police and rescue personnel busy and were responsible for more than $40,000 in damage to cars.

Patrolman Randy Gagne said things were pretty quiet Tuesday afternoon when suddenly the temperature dropped and all hell broke loose.

“It was hellacious,” Gagne said Tuesday. “I don’t know if we were the only town that froze over, but we sure had a lot of accidents all at once.”

The havoc began at approximately 4 p.m. on Route 1 near Camden Hills State Park when Jordan Parker, 16, of Camden lost control of his 1990 Subaru wagon while heading north and skidded into two southbound vehicles.

Five of the six occupants in the three separate cars were taken to the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport. They were treated and observed for minor injuries and then released.

All three vehicles were demolished. Gagne attributed the accident to driver inexperience and “extremely hazardous road conditions.”

The accident stopped traffic on Route 1 for more than an hour. James Moore, 54, of Warren was sitting in traffic in his pickup truck when it was rear-ended by a 1995 Honda driven by Susan Hatch, 45, of Islesboro. Neither Moore, Hatch nor Karen Berman of Islesboro, Hatch’s 43-year-old passenger, was injured.

The flashing police lights and icy road conditions were enough to convince tractor-trailer driver Sammy Hardy, 29, of Deer Isle to pull his 1984 Peterbilt to the side of Route 1 until the highway congestion cleared. At that point, Terry Lawson of Rockport lost control of his sedan and struck the truck’s fuel tank. The tank did not rupture, and neither driver was injured.

“It was quite a night,” Gagne said of the two hours.

In Etna

Minor injuries were reported in an accident involving a log truck and a school utility vehicle that occurred around 11 a.m. Tuesday in Etna.

According to Deputy John Skroski of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, Herbert Reynolds, 55, of Etna was treated at Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield and released, after the van he was driving was struck from behind by a log truck driven by Jeffrey Madden, 34, of Costigan. Madden was uninjured.

Both men were traveling southwest on Route 2 toward Newport at the time of the crash, which occurred on Abbot Hill in front of the Highland Farms orchard.

Skroski estimated $12,000 damage to the van, a 1988 Dodge which is a utility vehicle for SAD 38. About $2,000 damage was done to the front end of the log truck.

In Hancock County

A slew of accidents kept Hancock County police busy after the snow began to fall Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Ellsworth police reported at least 10 minor accidents or cars sliding off the road, plus a three-car accident on Oak Street.

Icy road conditions on Blue Hill Peninsula, especially on Route 15 in Sedgwick, Route 199 in Penobscot and Route 166 in Castine, led to more than a dozen accidents Monday and Tuesday. Sherri Gray, 28, broke her collarbone early Tuesday morning after she was ejected through the passenger window when driver Kelli Smith, 22, of Sargentville slid head-on into Richard Langchamps’ Dodge van.

Smith lost control of the car while heading south on Route 175 in Penobscot, and veered into Langchamps’ lane. Neither Smith nor Langchamps, 69, of Brooklin, was injured.

Slick road conditions across Mount Desert Island sent nearly a dozen cars off the road Tuesday and resulted in several minor but expensive fender benders.

Bar Harbor Police Department saw the lion’s share of Tuesday’s accidents.

Just before 8 a.m., Jeffrey McDaniel, 17, of Bar Harbor lost control on the Eagle Lake Road on slippery road conditions and slid down an embankment into a clump of trees. McDaniel was taken to Mount Desert Island Hospital for back pain, but was not admitted, according to a hospital official. His 1997 Mazda was demolished.

Several other cars went off the road, due to the conditions.

“It’s just a reminder to drive according to the conditions,” said Bar Harbor Police Chief Nate Young. Drivers should remember to keep an adequate space-cushion between their car and others, Young said. He suggests keeping one car space apart for each 10 mph traffic is moving.

A Skowhegan woman was trapped in her car for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon after it collided with two other cars on Route 152 in Palmyra shortly before 4 p.m.

The Newport Rescue crew was called to the scene with the Jaws of Life to assist Sebasticook Valley Hospital ambulance personnel in removing Doreen Booth, 33, from her 1998 Dodge Neon. Pittsfield firefighters and police were the first emergency personnel on the scene.

Booth’s Neon was traveling north on Route 152 when Carol Brown, 31, of Hartland lost control of her 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix in the icy southbound lane. Booth’s air bag deployed and made it difficult for her to get out of the vehicle. It was unknown whether she was wearing a seat belt.

A third car traveling behind Booth could not avoid striking the first two. The third car, a 1985 Toyota station wagon, was driven by Scott Giguere, 34, of North Anson.

Brown received minor injuries caused by her seat belt, according to investigating officer Trooper Chris Carr. She was taken to SVH in a private vehicle. Booth was taken to SVH by ambulance and was being evaluated for leg and neck injuries Tuesday evening. Giguere also was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

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