NEWPORT, Maine — A tractor-trailer driver told Maine State Police he crashed his truck into the woods Tuesday after a sneeze caused him to black out.
Stanley Gray, 43, of Bolivar, Mo., was headed north through Newport at mile marker 158 on Interstate 95 on his way to Van Buren to pick up a load when he fell unconscious and drove into the trees on the right-hand side of the road at around 4:20 a.m., state police Trooper Seth Edwards said Tuesday.
“He claims that he sneezed and that caused the muscles in his upper back to tighten up and he blacked out,” he said.
“I go with what they tell me,” he said. “I’m no doctor, so I can’t say.”
According to Edwards, the truck had damage “well into the thousands [of dollars].” The truck’s tires were flattened and the front axle broken, he said.
Newport police assisted state police.
Bouchard & Sons Towing of Hampden was called in to remove the truck, which Edwards said was entirely in woods, wedged in among trees and large rocks.
The Bouchard crew spent nearly six hours cutting the trees and pulling out the rocks before finally removing the truck at around 12:30 p.m.
“It’s a total loss,” Wayne Bouchard said of the truck. He was still at the scene at 2:30 p.m.
“The rear end’s ripped out of it, the front end’s ripped out of it and the drive axle’s torn out the frame,” he said.
“We had to call in an excavator” to remove the rocks and trees, he said. They also called in a hydroseeder to reseed the torn-up grass.
After crews removed it from the trees, the tractor-trailer was carried on a flatbed truck to the storage lot at Bouchard Towing in Hampden.
Police said alcohol was not a factor in the crash. Gray was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.
“He has a cut on his forehead that was treated by the ambulance [crew],” Edwards said. The driver refused transport to a hospital.
Edwards said the only passenger was a dog, which was uninjured.
Police said Gray had stopped at the Pilot truck stop in Fairfield, but didn’t know the driver’s origin or what he was going to pick up in Van Buren.
A representative for Landstar Ranger Inc., the driver’s employer in Jacksonville, Fla., declined to comment.