NEWPORT, Maine — Shannon Smith was still on maternity leave on the morning of Sept. 7 as she drove south on Interstate 95, her 2-month-old daughter, Savannah, strapped in back.
Witnesses told police that Smith’s minivan veered suddenly into the guardrail before she was ejected out the passenger-side window. The van, along with the baby, shot off the road into a stand of trees. Smith remembers none of it, according to Melissa Wilkins, her mother.
“The police were shocked that she was still alive,” said Wilkins. “They could see from the blood where she had dragged herself trying to get to the baby.”
Smith, who was taken by helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, suffered a compound fracture of her right arm, a severe injury to her left leg, major head injuries and lacerations and abrasions all over her body.
A state police trooper found Savannah still in her car safety seat without a scratch or even a red mark on her.
“What a blessing it is that the baby wasn’t hurt and that we still have Shannon,” said Wilkins. “Obviously, someone is watching over them.”
Smith, 34, is still healing but is expected to make a near-full recovery on the medical front, said Wilkins. Financially, though, things are a mess, which is why Wilkins and others have organized a benefit spaghetti dinner and raffle 5-7 p.m. Saturday at the Pittsfield Elks Lodge on Middle Street. Smith has medical insurance, but she and her boyfriend, Robert Trask, who is Savannah’s father, have missed a lot of work.
“Shannon was in the hospital for three weeks,” said Wilkins. “Rob had the baby the whole time. He was there at the hospital with her as much as absolutely possible.”
Smith, who is employed in the front office at Walpole Woodworkers in Pittsfield, expects to return to work in January. Wilkins said the proceeds from Saturday night’s dinner will help her family pay for everyday living expenses that they’ve fallen behind on.
Wilkins is selling raffle tickets for a television and seeking other items to raffle off during Saturday’s dinner.
Meanwhile, Smith is trying to spend as much time with her children as possible — including her 13-year-old son, Drake, who is hospitalized after his appendix burst recently. Infant Savannah still shows signs that she remembers the crash.
“Sometimes when they’re driving on a rough road, she’ll get all stiff,” said Wilkins. “Whenever they hit a pothole she jumps, but she’s actually done really well.”
Admission at Saturday’s dinner will be $7 per person, $12 per couple and $3.50 for children under 12 years old. For information about the dinner or to donate raffle items or cash, contact Wilkins at 249-9206.