OXFORD, Maine — A woman and child were injured Friday when their car crashed into a utility pole on Route 26 and continued several hundred feet before the car split a tree and burst into flames.
Police said the car was airborne several times before landing in the front yard at 518 Main St., near the intersection of Routes 26 and 121.
Jessica Thurston, 28, of Bethel was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center where she was listed in good condition Friday night, according to a nursing supervisor. Her 8-year-old son, who was in the back seat of the car, was taken by medical helicopter to Maine Medical Center, where he was in serious condition, Police Chief Jon Tibbetts said. The boy’s name was not available.
Tibbetts said Thurston was driving south in a 1996 Jeep Cherokee about 11:30 a.m. when the car went off the road, striking and breaking a telephone pole and sending wires across Route 26. The car traveled off-road several hundred feet over neighborhood lawns before striking a 40-foot maple tree, splitting it about 4 feet from the roots, which were partially pulled from the ground by the impact.
Tibbetts said the accident was still under investigation, but it appeared the woman fell asleep while driving. Both were wearing seat belts and the driver’s air bag deployed.
Witnesses in two of the three houses that the airborne car passed said the vehicle was “flying.”
“I heard a whoosh. It sure made a lot of noise,” Alberta Keene of 550 Main St. said. She was in the kitchen when her husband yelled to her, “They were flying.”
Another neighbor heard a racket and ran to see what happened.
“I stood up and looked and I saw this vehicle flying by,” said Bill Begio of 554 Main St., who was sitting at his kitchen table at the time of the crash. Begio said the car went over and destroyed at least one flower bed container on his front lawn before crashing into two saw horses and a windmill he had placed on the side of the road for sale.
“I saw my windmill flying by,” he said. “It’s all piled on back of my four-wheeler now. Usually, they take out my mailbox.”
A witness at the scene who was driving north on Route 26 from Massachusetts to his summer home in Bethel said he saw a huge cloud of dust and the engine compartment of the car was in flames. A witness said someone with a fire extinguisher put out the flames that were contained to the front of the Jeep. The two victims were still in the car. He said he was able to speak briefly to the woman.
“She said she fell asleep,” said the man, who declined to identify himself.
Rescue workers say the boy was conscious but not speaking.
Ann Harvey, the owner of the house at 518 Main St. where the car ended up, said she was driving home at the time of the accident and had to park her car at the Welchville intersection of Routes 26 and 121, where traffic was being diverted, and walk home.
Maine Central Power Co. personnel arrived at the scene quickly to remove the downed lines that were across Route 26 and to restore power.
Traffic was rerouted in Welchville and at the intersection of King Street and Route 26 for several hours.
“Someone was watching them,” said one man as he looked at the destruction.