Man OK after truck sent airborne for 68 feet

Posted June 22, 2010, at 4 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.
Lincoln Police Chief Scott Minckler examines a seat belt for signs of melting common when they are worn in high-speed impacts as a Lincoln firefighter looks on. (Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)
Lincoln Police Chief Scott Minckler examines a seat belt for signs of melting common when they are worn in high-speed impacts as a Lincoln firefighter looks on. (Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)
Lincoln Police Officer Robert Smith [left] photographs a wrecked GMC Sierra pickup truck as Police Chief Scott Minckler speaks on a cellphone and wrecker operator Evan Thornton scouts for large pieces of wreckage at an accident scene on Route 6 in Lincoln on Tuesday.(Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)
Lincoln Police Officer Robert Smith [left] photographs a wrecked GMC Sierra pickup truck as Police Chief Scott Minckler speaks on a cellphone and wrecker operator Evan Thornton scouts for large pieces of wreckage at an accident scene on Route 6 in Lincoln on Tuesday.(Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)
Rebecca Coolong. (Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)
Rebecca Coolong. (Bangor Daily News/Nick Sambides Jr.)

LINCOLN, Maine — A woman who might have been a medical practitioner was a guardian angel to an 80-year-old motorist whose pickup truck went off Route 6, slammed into a drainage ditch and flew 68 feet before landing on its passenger side and rolling over, police said.

Dressed in what appeared to be hospital scrubs, the woman came upon the accident immediately after it happened in front of 1536 Lee Road at about 1:55 p.m., said Rebecca Coolong, who lives at 1536 and ran to the pickup truck immediately after the accident happened.

“She talked to the man in the truck and stabilized his neck,” Coolong, 19, said Tuesday. “He was yelling a lot, claiming he was fine, and she told him that he had to stay in the truck until the firefighters arrived.

“He was grouchy,” Coolong added. “When I first got here, he was shouting a lot, saying ‘I’m fine. I just want to get this door open.’”

The woman was also the first to call 911, Coolong said.

The westbound GMC Sierra went off the road after a fairly sharp curve on Route 6, also known as Lee Road. It came to rest against a mailbox in front of Coolong’s house shortly after the University of Rhode Island student had grabbed the mail, she said.

“I was out there weed whacking when I decided to go inside to get a drink,” Coolong said.

The driver, Donald Lyons, complained of stomach pain, which investigators associated with his wearing his seat belt during the accident. He was in stable condition at Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln Police Chief Scott Minckler said.

Accident measurements show that the pickup went airborne for 68 feet after it hit the ditch. It landed in Coolong’s driveway on its front passenger side, rolled onto its roof and came to rest on its remaining wheels. The front left wheel broke off when the vehicle hit the ditch, Minckler said.

“I would say that he is a very lucky individual,” Minckler said of Lyons.

Officer Robert Smith, who is investigating the accident, hadn’t yet determined by Tuesday evening how fast Lyons was going or why his vehicle left the road, Minckler said.

The woman Coolong described was traveling behind Lyons, saw the accident and is the investigators’ prime witness, said Minckler, who did not have her name immediately available.

“She had been following him for quite a ways,” Minckler said.

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