CHARLOTTE, Maine — A Washington County sheriff’s deputy suffered serious injuries Thursday night when his cruiser rolled over on the Charlotte Road after striking a moose.
Sgt. Thomas Chambers was taken by ambulance to Calais Regional Hospital and then transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. LifeFlight Air Ambulance was unable to fly because of poor weather conditions but a LifeFlight ground crew drove to Calais and accompanied Chambers to Bangor.
His injuries are not life-threatening, Sheriff Donnie Smith said. “He is doing a lot better than we originally thought.”
Chambers was on duty and searching for a vehicle in which the driver possibly was suffering from a medical condition when the accident occurred. Smith said Chambers told him at the scene that he came across a moose in the road and tried to avoid it.
“He may have clipped the moose — it’s kind of hard to tell from the extensive damage to the cruiser — and we saw moose tracks where the vehicle started to skid,” Smith said. Chambers lost control of the cruiser, hit a stump and flipped over. He was not ejected.
“Thank God for seat belts and air bags,” Smith said. The cruiser was a brand-new 2010 model, Smith said, that had been delivered just two days earlier. It was demolished.
Chambers is the department’s K-9 officer, but his dog was not with him at the time of the crash.
“He had worked a K-9 detail at the Lubec border crossing earlier today,” Smith said. Because the cruiser was so new, the cage that separates the front and back seats had not been installed. Smith said Chambers was uncomfortable patrolling with the dog without a cage so he had dropped the dog off at his Calais home earlier in the evening.
Smith said Chambers has been with the Sheriff’s Department since 2007. Before that he was a Calais police officer.
Police and rescue units from Calais, Eastport, Pleasant Point, the Sheriff’s Department, Border Patrol and the Maine State Police converged on the scene of the accident, which was reported about 6:20 p.m.
While some officers were still securing the accident scene, a robbery was reported a few miles away at the Pembroke Irving Station on Route 1. Smith said a man wearing a plaid jacket, bluejeans and a hunter orange ski mask walked into the store and stole some beer. No weapons were displayed, and the man did not speak to anyone.
Several deputies and Maine state troopers who had been at Chambers’ accident scene converged in the area searching for the man. State police are taking the lead on that case.
Smith said the Sheriff’s Department will reconstruct Chambers’ accident, and the state police will investigate it.