June 23, 2018
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Two teens killed, 12-year-old girl injured in Steuben crash

By Nok-Noi Ricker and Rich Hewitt, Special to the BDN

STEUBEN, Maine — Two Washington County teenagers have died from injuries suffered Tuesday night when their car sped through a stop sign and was hit broadside by another vehicle at the junction of Route 1 and East Side Road.

Zachary Dean, 17, of Columbia Falls and a passenger in his car, Morgan Parritt, 15, of Steuben, died from severe head injuries. A 12-year-old passenger, whose identity has not been released, is in stable condition, police said.

Dean was driving a 2001 Chevy Cavalier on East Side Road at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Chief Deputy Mike St. Louis of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

“The Chevy Cavalier, driven by Zachary Dean, was traveling at a high rate of speed down the East Side Road heading toward Route 1 and failed to stop at the stop sign,” St. Louis said Wednesday.

Dean’s car went through the stop sign and onto Route 1 into the path of a 2003 Jeep Liberty driven by Brooke Burgess, 31, of Steuben. Burgess couldn’t avoid crashing into Dean’s car on the driver’s side, St. Louis said.

“The fatalities are a result of severe head trauma,” he said.

Dean was pronounced dead at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth and Parritt died at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

A 12-year-old girl suffered head injuries and is in stable condition at EMMC, St. Louis said. Contrary to earlier reports, the girl is not believed to be related to Parritt. Her relationship to the two dead teens remained unclear Wednesday.

At the time of the crash, Burgess was traveling with her husband and daughter, whose names were not immediately available. They were not injured in the crash, police said.

Officers have not determined whether the teens were wearing seat belts, St. Louis said. It does not appear that alcohol was a factor in the accident, he said. Blood samples will be tested, which is normal in a fatal accident.

The accident remains under investigation by Washington County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Randy Perry and will be reconstructed by Lt. Pat Kane of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. Results of the reconstruction and the blood tests are not expected for several weeks.

The two teenagers were well regarded in their respective high schools.

Dean was starting his senior year at Narraguagus High School in Harrington. Dean had served as the president of the junior class last year and was expected to run for senior class president this year. He had delivered the response to the Senior Class during the 2009 commencement ceremonies.

“He did a good job of it; everybody was really impressed,” said Principal John Sawyer. “He was not ordinarily out in front of the public like that.”

Although not always the most serious student, Dean had scored well on the SAT-MEA tests last year. There was a lot of potential there, Sawyer said.

“His scores were really good,” Assistant Principal Lucille Willey said. “I think he didn’t want anyone to know how smart he was.”

Dean had high hopes for his senior year, Sawyer said, and was looking beyond graduation.

“I got the sense that he was really looking forward to making the most of his senior year,” Sawyer said. “He wanted to play basketball, get involved in activities and have a good year and possibly go on to some type of school.”

Parritt was entering her sophomore year at Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan. Basketball was a passion for Parritt, who played on Sumner Memorial’s junior varsity team last year, according to Sumner Principal Michael Eastman. “She had just returned from a summer basketball camp and looked forward to playing again this year,” he said.

Eastman remembered her as a “spitfire.”

“She laughed a lot and she said it like it was,” he said. “And she made the best of a lot of situations.”

Though not involved in a lot of school activities outside of basketball, Eastman said Parritt was a “diverse young lady who complemented the student body.

“She had a lot of energy and she brought a smile to the faces of the adults in the building,” he said. “She was a joy to have in the school.”

Both schools will have grief counselors and members of the crisis management teams available between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. today at the schools to help students. Eastman said they also plan to have people available at the start of school to deal with any emotional issues at that time. Sawyer said counselors will evaluate student response during the session today before making additional plans for the start of school.

Emergency responders from several agencies worked as hard as they could to free the teenagers and save their lives, St. Louis said.

“Jaws [of Life extrication devices] from two agencies were used,” he said. “Steuben and Cherryfield fire departments worked to extricate everybody.”

Local crews were assisted by Maine State Police, Machias police, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, firefighters and ambulance crews from Cherryfield and Milbridge, Pleasant River Ambulance and County Ambulance.

“They did the best they could,” St. Louis said.

A large crowd of residents gathered Tuesday night at the crash scene and included Town Clerk Julie Ginn, who also is a fire department employee.

“They were kids and have a lot of friends,” she said Wednesday. “It was just a sad scene.”

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