CAMBRIDGE, Maine — The driver of a tractor-trailer loaded with logs failed to negotiate a curve in Cambridge and crashed into the Cambridge General Store early Tuesday morning, causing extensive damage to the store and a Jeep parked in the driveway.
The driver of the rig, John Watson, 51, of Solon, told Deputy Don Avery of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department that the sharp curve at the intersection of Routes 150 and 152 “snuck up on him” because it was very foggy at the time of the 4 a.m. crash. Watson said he couldn’t see the corner very well and when he did see it, it was too late, according to Avery. The tractor-trailer went off the pavement, flipped onto its side and slid into the building. The load of logs struck the building, crushed a 1999 Jeep and damaged another vehicle in the yard.
Some local residents say the Maine Department of Transportation needs to install a blinking yellow light at the intersection or install stop signs because there have been other accidents over the years, including one a few months ago, at that location. The curve is too sharp and is dangerous, they say.
Tony Dimeo, who co-owns the store with his mother and father, Dan and Brenda Dimeo, and his two siblings, Jeremy and Nathan Dimeo, was asleep in a downstairs apartment when the crash occurred. Jeremy and his two children, along with Jeremiah Merrill, the family’s nanny and cook, were asleep in bedrooms above the crash scene. All escaped without injury.
Watson suffered minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield to be evaluated, according to Avery.
“I heard the truck skidding and then there was this very loud bang as logs struck my house,” Tony Dimeo said. “It shook my whole apartment and almost knocked me out of bed.”
He said he jumped out of bed, ran outside, and saw the truck on its side, its cab inside the store coolers. Dimeo said he jumped over and ran on top of the logs as fast as he could to check on the driver. “I said, ‘Are you OK, are you alive?’” he recalled asking, but there was no response.
Seconds after that, Dimeo said his adrenaline was flowing and he raced upstairs to check on his family. When he found they were safe, he went back outside to check on the driver again. That’s when he noticed that the truck driver was tapping his brake, making the brake light go on and off, a move that let him know the driver was OK, Dimeo said. He said he was amazed that Watson survived the crash because the cab of the truck was demolished.
Dan Dimeo said the truck driver was very concerned about the occupants of the house. The first words out of his mouth was, “Everybody OK?” he recalled.
“[Thank] God … it didn’t happen during the day because people walk around out there,” Merrill said. He said there likely would have been some causalities because people would have been milling about and going to the store and restaurant, the hair salon and bottle redemption, all located on the premises.
The family purchased the property last October and did extensive remodeling before opening the business in February. The family had planned to take the Jeep, which was recently purchased, to its summer home in Florida. The force of the logs pushed the Jeep against a porch, where it was crushed next to a double baby stroller.
Despite the extensive damage, Brenda Dimeo said the business would reopen Tuesday afternoon. “Life goes on,” Dan Dimeo added.
The accident is under investigation and no charges have been filed. Assisting Avery at the scene was the Cambridge Fire Department and the Maine State Police truck weight unit.
The tractor-trailer Watson was driving is owned by Gould & Sons Inc. of Cornville.