EDDINGTON, Maine — A Halifax, Nova Scotia, man traveling Route 9 on Thursday afternoon with his sons fell asleep at the wheel and crashed head-on into a minivan, killing two local women and seriously injuring a third man, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Troy Morton said Friday.
Clifton residents Ruth Rennebu, 63, and Judi Sampson, 30, were killed in the crash, which sent debris flying over the roadway.
Rennebu was driving, Morton said. Both women died at the scene,
Hugh Fraser, 44, told police “he was traveling with his three sons, ages 5, 10 and 13,” and “fell asleep, crossing the centerline and striking the second van head-on,” Morton said. The accident happened about 2:15 p.m. Thursday.
“Every time I think about Ruthie, I start crying,” said Robin Rennebu of Eddington, who is Ruth Rennebu’s sister-in-law and childhood friend. “I was friends with her since I was 10 years old.”
Robin said Ruth was a hard worker who recently held a job as a housekeeper. Ruth loved her family, dogs and horses.
The man in the van with Rennebu and Sampson, Milton Rennebu, was Ruth Rennebu’s son and Sampson’s fiancee, according to Robin Rennebu.
Milton Rennebu, 30, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and is in critical condition, Morton said at about 8:45 a.m.
Rescue crews took members of the Fraser family to EMMC with injuries that ranged from serious to life-threatening, Morton said Thursday night.
On Friday morning, one person remained in critical condition, he said, and the others had less serious injuries.
Route 9 between the 800 block and Route 178 was closed until about 7 p.m. while Maine State Police accident reconstruction teams investigated the scene.
Emergency crews from Eddington, Holden and Brewer also went to the scene. Officers from several police departments and workers from the Department of Transportation also assisted.
The Eddington-Clifton area has had a couple of deadly weeks, Morton said.
“It’s the third serious crash we’ve had out there in the last two weeks and it’s the second fatal” incident, he said. “Driver inattention — clearly — was involved in all three of them.”
An Orrington man was killed in a head-on crash on the evening of Aug. 19 when he crossed the centerline on Route 46 and collided with a tractor-trailer. The next day, a couple from Perry were seriously injured when the driver fell asleep at the wheel and rolled the Jeep Wrangler he was operating.
BDN reporter Nick McCrea contributed to this story.