Perry couple badly injured in Clifton accident

Posted Aug. 21, 2011, at 12:28 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2011, at 7:57 p.m.

CLIFTON, Maine — A young couple from Perry who were ejected from the Jeep they were traveling in late Saturday night both were so badly injured that they needed to be taken to hospitals by LifeFlight helicopter, officials said.

Lewis Francis, 19, was driving the black 2005 Jeep Wrangler about 11:35 p.m. when he fell asleep at the wheel on Route 9, just before the Clifton town office, and drifted over the centerline, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean McCue said Sunday.

“They drifted into the oncoming lane, hit a ditch and an embankment and went airborne,” he said. When the Jeep landed, “the front end stuck into the ground and rotated and ejected the driver and passenger.”

The Jeep eventually came to rest on its four tires.

A LifeFlight helicopter was called for passenger Cathleen Clement, 18, who was flown to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

“She had a severe left leg injury, a compound fracture with exposed bone,” McCue said. “The driver was taken by ambulance. His injuries at the outset weren’t that severe but I learned he was LifeFlighted to Boston last night.”

Francis had torn his aorta, the deputy said.

“He’s certainly critical,” McCue said. “That is a pretty severe internal injury.”

The name of the Boston hospital was not available on Sunday night.

Eddington firefighters and a Brewer rescue unit went to the crash scene, Eddington Fire Chief Jim Ellis said on Sunday.

Clement was listed in critical condition on Saturday night, McCue said. Her condition on Sunday was not available.

There was no indicator that alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash, McCue said, adding that the couple was heading home after visiting Bangor.

“If they would have had their seat belts on, it would have been a different story,” he said. “It’s just a scary, tragic thing. It just makes you realize that life is precious.”

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