MONROE, Maine — Medway resident Chad Brackett said Wednesday that he knew the truck in which he was riding Monday night was going to crash before it went off the road, killing his friend and co-worker William Russell, 28.
“We was cruisin’,” he said. “It’s obvious we was going too fast. I said, ‘We ain’t making this corner’ and [tried to get down] on the floorboard.”
Moments later, the truck, driven by James Lee, 43, manager at Emery Lee & Sons of Millinocket, crashed on Monroe Road.
Brackett, who turns 30 Thursday, wasn’t able to say exactly how fast the work truck was traveling because “the speedometer never worked.”
Lee, who retired as a Medway selectman in June, has a history of speeding violations, 15 in the past decade, and Maine State Police said speed likely was a factor in the 8 p.m. crash.
No charges have been filed against Lee, said Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland on Wednesday. Once the crash report is complete, it will be reviewed by the Waldo County District Attorney’s Office, he said.
Lee attempted to stop the truck, Brackett said, before it went off the dark road, hitting two trees and overturning.
Russell, who was in the front seat, died instantly.
“He was a good kid,” Brackett said. “He had two little girls and a little boy, named William Junior. It’s just too bad.”
Brackett said he found himself pinned upside down in the crushed truck, with his legs sticking out the back window, his cell phone still in his hand, after the vehicle came to rest.
William “Bill” York, 37, also of Medway, was pinned behind him.
“I flipped open my cell phone, my daughter’s picture was in there, and I kept thinking, ‘I hope I don’t die,’” he said. “There was no signal at all.”
Brackett then attempted to use York’s cell phone, but it had no signal either. Lee could be heard outside of the truck screaming.
It wasn’t long before emergency crews arrived, Brackett said, and he and York were removed from the truck with extrication equipment. Co-workers, who were in another company truck that turned around when they learned about the crash, helped to lift both York and Brackett, a 6-foot 3-inch 280-pound man, to emergency vehicles.
“I felt myself being picked up and there was ‘Pork Chop’ and Dave Newburgh pulling me out of the ditch,” he said.
“Pork Chop” is the nickname of co-worker Tom Lee.
Brackett, who had lost blood from cuts to the back of his right arm, was flown by helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, while York and Lee followed by ambulance. York has a broken back, but is “still moving everything, so that’s good,” Brackett said. Lee suffered a broken collar bone.
While Brackett was in the hospital, Lee “came in and said he was sorry and such.” Lee is the son of Emery Lee and runs the family business with brothers Jeff and Darin and other family members, according to the Emery Lee & Sons Web site.
Friends and family of Russell are invited to visit with his family from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Lamson Funeral Home, 17 Western Ave., East Millinocket.
His funeral is 10 a.m. Friday at the Calvary Temple Assembly of God in East Millinocket. Afterward, Russell, who served in the U.S. Army, including 17 months of service in Kuwait, will be given military honors at his interment at Grindstone Cemetery, Medway.