January 17, 2013

Slick roads spur accidents

At least six people hurt in multiple accidents Wednesday

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

and Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

At least six people were hurt in two of multiple accidents Wednesday as snow covered Augusta area roads.

click image to enlarge

Farmingdale and Gardiner firefighters approach vehicles that collided Wednesday on Maine Avenue in Farmingdale. Accidents were reported across Maine as several inches of snow fell.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Municipal, state and county police responded to numerous accidents, including at least three vehicle rollovers, that resulted in no injuries or only minor injuries. However, two crashes, one in Litchfield and another in Farmingdale, resulted in six people being taken to the hospital.

Four of those people were injured when three cars collided shortly before 1 p.m. on Maine Avenue in Farmingdale.

Maine State Police Trooper Niles Krech said the crash occurred when a vehicle being driven by Jack Barlow, 62, of Dresden, slowed in the southbound lane to make a left turn near Dunklee & Nott Investment & Retirement Planning.

Bryan Williams, 24, of Farmingdale, was driving behind Barlow and was unable to stop before his car hit Barlow's from behind, Krech said. The impact forced Barlow's car into oncoming lane, where it hit nearly head-on with a northbound vehicle being driven by Susan Prew, 58, of Gardiner.

Williams, Barlow and Prew, as well as Barlow's passenger, Sharon Barlow, 61, of Dresden, were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, Krech said. Williams, who suffered a broken wrist, was the most severely injured, Krech said.

Krech said Williams had moved back to the area recently from out of state and wasn't used to driving in snow.

Before the Farmingdale accident, two people were taken by ambulance to a hospital after a crash involving a tractor-trailer and a car about 7:15 a.m. on Route 197 near Huntington Hill Road in Litchfield.

The truck driver, too, suffered minor injuries, but said he would drive himself to the hospital, according to Maine State Trooper Shane Northrup, who investigated the crash.

Northrup said David Mihalik, 48, of Monmouth, was driving a Gray Trucking Inc. vehicle along Route 197 when a Buick sedan driven by Autumn Dunton, 38, of Livermore Falls, who was traveling down Huntington Hill Road, went through the stop sign because the road was slippery.

"The car slid into the intersection, and the truck had nowhere to go and struck the car," Northrup said, adding that no charges would be filed.

Northrup said the truck could be driven away, but the Buick was towed from the scene.

Tina Gowell, director of Litchfield Rescue, said Dunton and her adult son were taken by Gardiner Ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Dunton was driving her 18-year-old son to a new job at Bath Iron Works.

"She saw the trailer-truck and realized she couldn't stop, so she gunned it," Gowell said. "That saved her life."

Motorists sliding and colliding on slippery roads kept police, tow-truck operators and sanding-plow trucks busy all morning and into the afternoon.

Among the numerous crashes was a rollover on Route 41 in Mount Vernon. Rescuers had to help the driver from the vehicle, but there were no injuries, according to police reports. A second rollover was reported in the afternoon on Route 17 in Whitefield.

Augusta rescue and police responded to two crashes at the intersection of Summerhaven Road and Civic Center Drive. One of those crashes resulted in minor injury, police said.

In southern Maine, both southbound lanes of Interstate-295 in Yarmouth were closed for several hours because of a jackknifed tractor-trailer. Traffic was backed up well into Freeport as motorists used the Yarmouth exit to detour around the crash site. Trooper Douglas Cropper said the truck's driver was Adrian Hutchinson, 35, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who was not injured.

Hundreds of motorists were caught in the huge tie-up as traffic slowed to a crawl.

Meteorologist Michael Cempa at the National Weather Service forecast office in Gray said that as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, about 3 inches of snow had fallen in most parts of Maine.

Cempa said after the sky clears today, central Maine residents can expect a return of very cold temperatures.

"Probably you're looking at anywhere from 5 to 15 below, without the wind," Cempa said. "There will be some wind, and that might make it feel a little bit colder; but I don't think we're looking at any stronger winds. Wind chills could get to minus 20."

Friday is likely to be cold, too, with warmer temperatures predicted for the weekend, he said.

Staff Writer Doug Harlow contributed to this report.

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