TOWNSHIP 2 RANGE 9, Maine — A truck driver for a Lincoln company was killed when his 18-wheeler fell over and slid into a guardrail a few hundred yards south of Interstate 95’s mile marker 241 on Monday, state police said.
Donald Pepin, 50, of Mattawamkeag was killed almost instantly when the truck started to wobble as it passed another vehicle in the left southbound lane, fell onto its left side and slammed into a guardrail after sliding for many yards. The accident occurred at shortly after 11 a.m., state police Trooper Larry Anderson said.
Several tons of wood chips the truck was hauling spilled down a sloped area of the median as the truck chewed up about 50 yards of guardrail before it halted. No one else was inside the truck or hurt in the accident, Anderson said.
Anderson and members of the state police truck weights unit were working to see whether an imbalance in the load, or a mechanical failure, might have caused the accident. A motorist told police that the truck wasn’t moving especially fast when it passed her and began wobbling and fishtailing, Anderson said.
“Speed is not a factor in the investigation at this point,” Anderson said Monday.
Tom Gardner, co-owner of W.T. Gardner & Sons Inc. of Lincoln, referred comment to state police. He came to the accident scene quickly after the accident and appeared saddened as he walked around the accident site. He called Pepin “one of our better drivers.”
The truck appeared to be fully loaded, Medway Assistant Fire Chief Greg Hale said, though he added that it was difficult to tell. When Medway and East Millinocket firefighters arrived, state police were there already, and the entire roof of the truck was peeled away by the accident.
Medics could do nothing for the driver at that point, Hale said.
Paramedics and ambulances attached to the East Millinocket Fire Department cover Medway as part of an emergency medical service agreement the department has with the town, Hale said.
Traffic through most of the township, which is just south of Medway in northern Penobscot County, was reduced to one lane as firefighters and state police attended to the scene.
The truck and trailer appeared to have been destroyed. State police delayed releasing Pepin’s name until his family was notified, Anderson said.
W.T. Gardner & Sons is part of a group of companies that specialize in several areas, including logging, forestry, land management and trucking. The company owns and operates a chip mill in Chester.