NORTHPORT, Maine — When a pickup truck and a car smashed into a Dunkin’ Donuts tractor-trailer that was traveling about 50 mph on Route 1, the large truck lost some of its tires, causing the driver to lose control.
The tractor-trailer swerved to the left, hit a ditch, went partially airborne and flew toward a large pine tree before planting into someone’s front lawn.
Though all three vehicles were totaled, no one was injured.
“For everyone to walk away and not be hurt is amazing,” said the Dunkin’ Donuts truck driver Tom Proulx, 52, of Buxton.
The accident happened about 7:15 a.m. Thursday while Proulx was driving north through Northport on his delivery route that stretches from Waldoboro to Bangor.
When a Buick sedan driving south veered into the northbound lane, headed right for Proulx, Proulx swerved right to avoid being hit by the car. The car tore off the driver’s-side front tire of the larger vehicle. Then a pickup truck that was driving behind the car struck the tractor-trailer and wiped out its back tires.
Proulx said that after being struck by both vehicles it became impossible to steer the truck, which was hauling a 30,000-pound load of supplies for Dunkin’ Donut stores. The runaway tractor-trailer skidded left and hit an embankment, forcing the tractor to go airborne.
The branches of a large pine tree grabbed and scraped at the cab and box as the tractor-trailer hurtled toward the tree, according to Proulx. Fortunately, the rig missed the tree and planted itself into the lawn just three feet away.
The driver estimated the value of the ruined supplies and equipment in the truck at about $500,000.
At about noon Thursday, the cab’s grill, which had been ripped off, was still hanging from one of the pine branches above the truck. Rocks and dirt were embedded in the engine and the truck’s front wheels were buried to the axle in the dirt.
“And it’s all over a pack of cigarettes,” Proulx said Thursday.
After the accident, the car’s driver, David M. Harmon, 33, of Cushing, told police officers that he had reached down to pick up a pack of cigarettes. While he was distracted, his car apparently drifted into the wrong lane.
According to Proulx, who has been a professional driver for 28 years, had he not swerved right when the car came at him, the car would have hit the tractor-trailer’s engine and likely the sedan’s driver wouldn’t have walked away from the accident.
“Two feet,” Proulx said. “You can push a tire back — you can’t push the engine back.”
None of the drivers, including Jonathan S. Dove, 31, of Northport, who was driving the 2002 Toyota pickup, was hurt.
According to Peter Simpson, assistant fire chief in Northport, the affected section of Route 1 was closed to only one lane for about an hour. On Thursday afternoon, the fire crew was still at the scene, blocking off the accident until all the Dunkin’ Donuts supplies could be picked up and the tractor-trailer removed.