BANGOR, Maine — A storm that swept through Maine on Monday, leaving snow and ice in its wake, was a factor in a deadly crash on Interstate 95 in Etna that forced the closure of the southbound travel lanes for nearly three hours.
The accident, which occurred about 10:45 a.m. near mile marker 167, claimed the life of a young Massachusetts woman, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, confirmed Monday.
Lydia Parker, 22, of Wesport, Mass. was returning home after driving her boyfriend to a job in Nova Scotia, according to police. Parker’s relatives were notified of her death late Monday night.
The accident occurred when the Parker’s car slammed into the back end of a service truck assisting in the repair of a tractor-trailer parked in the breakdown lane along the interstate in Etna, according to Trooper Trevor Snow.
Snow said Parker was killed on impact.
Heavy snow was falling when the accident happened, Snow said. The driver of the service truck, Nicholas Wark of Carmel, and the driver of the tractor-trailer, whose name was not immediately available Monday afternoon, were out of their vehicles at the time and did not witness the crash but did hear the impact, according to Snow. The service truck is owned by Discount Towing of Carmel.
The highway reopened about 2:30 p.m.
The accident in Etna was among at least 20 in Penobscot County that had been reported by midafternoon Monday. The accidents continued to stack up as the evening commute got under way, according to Penobscot County and state police dispatchers. Most of them resulted in only minor injury or property damage only.
A winter storm warning was in effect Monday for Aroostook, Piscataquis and Somerset counties, while a winter weather advisory was issued for Penobscot County and Down East.
Treacherous driving conditions prompted the Maine Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit to 45 mph for the entire length of I-95 from Houlton to Kittery, MDOT spokesman Mark Latti said Monday. He said the speed limit also was reduced for Interstate 295 in southern Maine.
Schools and businesses shut down early and after-school and evening events were canceled Monday as the storm moved into the state, threatening to dump 6 to 10 inches of snow on some parts of Maine.
By about 6 p.m., several Maine towns had received more than half a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service office in Caribou. In Washington County, East Machias was reporting 8 inches and Topsfield had 6 inches. Shin Pond in Penobscot County had received 7 inches.
Snow began falling during midmorning in Aroostook County and NWS forecasters predicted the region would pick up 5 to 9 inches by the time the storm wound down. Snow was expected to be heavy at times with wind gusts of 10 to 15 mph blowing snow across roadways and making driving difficult.
Seven inches of snow was reported in Ashland and Island Falls by 6 p.m. Monday, and 6 inches in Houlton. Madawaska, Portage and Fort Fairfield each had 5 or more inches.
Many schools and colleges in the region dismissed students at 1 p.m. or canceled evening classes, and some businesses closed early.
Though only a few inches fell in Greater Bangor, dangerous driving conditions prompted the early closure of the Penobscot Judicial Center, where the Zachary Carr murder trial was just getting under way.
In addition, the city of Bangor postponed public hearings on the proposed arena project and the future of emergency dispatching. Also scrapped for the day were a host of other activities planned throughout northern and eastern Maine, ranging from adult education classes and after-school activities, bingo and meal programs, church services and a ladies tea at the Jonesport Wesleyan Church.
Despite the wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain, it was almost business as usual at Bangor International Airport, where only a handful of flights were canceled or delayed as of late afternoon.
Bangor Daily News writers Dawn Gagnon in Bangor, Jen Lynds in Houlton and Jamison Cocklin, Special to the BDN, contributed to this report.