HAMPDEN, Maine — A driver fleeing police died after crashing into a tree on Route 1A on Monday afternoon, according to a public safety official.
The man, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, according to Joe Rogers, Hampden Public Safety director.
Rogers said the green Jeep the man was driving was registered to a Belfast resident. Hampden police still were attempting to notify family members Monday evening.
The Jeep, which had been traveling erratically on Interstate 95 and Interstate 395, reportedly reached an estimated speed of 100 mph by the time it crashed along the section of Route 1A known as Main Road North in Hampden, Rogers said.
Just before the crash, the man sideswiped a Subaru Forester driven by a Hampden woman and took out a section of fence at Riverview Cemetery, Rogers said.
Lorraine Frawley, 62, was not injured in the crash, though her SUV had extensive damage along the entire length of the driver’s side, including a ripped-off back wheel.
“I didn’t even see him coming,” said Frawley, whose driveway is directly across the road from the spot where her vehicle was hit.
Frawley said she had just waved to neighbors and was waiting for an oncoming car to get by when the Jeep came up from behind, sideswiped her Subaru, shot ahead and then crashed.
“The police said that if I had made my turn I’d be dead,” Frawley said. Though she was calm and steady while waiting for her Subaru to be removed from the roadway, she said that she was shaken after the accident.
Frawley, who was wearing a seat belt when the crash happened, credited her vehicle’s side air bags for preventing her from being injured. She said she didn’t want to buy that particular vehicle at the time but now she is glad that she did.
The series of events that led to the deadly crash began shortly before 3:30 p.m., when the Bangor Police Department received information from Maine State Police that a vehicle traveling south from the Old Town area on Interstate 95 was operating erratically.
A vehicle matching the description given by state police was spotted on I-395 in Bangor shortly afterward by Bangor police Officer George Spencer, Bangor Deputy Police Chief Peter Arno said in a news release issued early Monday evening.
The vehicle took an exit onto Perry Road, where Spencer tried to pull it over, Arno said.
The driver allegedly refused to stop and traveled from Perry Road onto Main Street toward Hampden at a high rate of speed, eventually crashing into a tree.
The accident remains under investigation by the Hampden Police Department. It is being reconstructed by Officer Christopher Watson of the Orono Police Department, who was being assisted Monday by Officer Jim Dearing and Officer Steve Jordan of the Bangor Police Department.