Garbage truck flips, ties up Route 191 in Cooper

Posted Aug. 26, 2010, at 10:57 p.m.

COOPER, Maine — A Calais man escaped serious injury Wednesday morning when the garbage truck he was driving had a mechanical problem on Route 191 and flipped over, dumping garbage over the road and into a nearby stream.

According to Sgt. Tom Chambers of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Christopher Sherrard, 35, was hauling trash from the Marian Transfer Station to Canada at about 10 a.m. Wednesday when a pin holding the springs to the frame sheared off. Sherrard told the officer that he heard a popping sound and felt something loose underneath the vehicle.

Sherrard was headed into a curve near the North Union Road and the force propelled the trash canister upward. The truck became top heavy, Sgt. Chambers said, and the vehicle rolled over.

A safety officer from the Maine Department of Transportation was traveling in the opposite direction and witnessed the incident, Chambers said Thursday. She told him the truck was tilted “dramatically” as it went into the curve. The truck skidded about 45 feet in the road after it rolled over onto its side and stopped about 20 feet from the safety officer’s vehicle, the sergeant said.

“That was fortunate,” Chambers said. “If either of them had been going any faster, things would have ended differently. We would have had a head-on crash. They were both pretty shaken up.”

It appears that Sherrard probably was traveling under the posted 50 mph speed limit, the officer said.

Sherrard suffered bumps and bruises in the accident and was taken to Calais Regional Hospital where he was treated and later released.

The accident caused delays along Route 191 for more than nine hours as crews worked to clean up the garbage and to remove the truck from the scene.

Some of the garbage spilled into Dead Stream, and Chambers said inspectors from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection were called in as a precaution. There were no hazardous materials in the trailer, he said. Although a small amount of fluid leaked from the truck, it was contained and did not reach the stream.

Crews from the Cooper, Alexander and Meddybemps fire departments responded and worked with officers to direct traffic throughout the day. One lane of traffic was kept open for most of the day, but crews had to completely close the road on several occasions during the cleanup process.

The staff at Randy’s Variety in neighboring Alexander provided food and fluids for the crews, Chambers said.

“Manpower was low and we couldn’t send anyone off,” he said. “They kept the crews hydrated and brought us food. They stuck it out the whole day.”

Crews finished clearing the scene at about 7:15 p.m.

The accident remains under investigation.

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