TOWNSHIP 2 RANGE 9, Maine — A 56-year-old Millinocket woman died Thursday evening after her vehicle struck a tree off the northbound lanes of Interstate 95.
Elizabeth Gould was pronounced dead at Millinocket Regional Hospital, Trooper Adam Coover of the Maine State Police said late Thursday night. She was about six miles away from arriving in her hometown.
Though a physical examination had yet to be conducted Thursday night, Coover said it appeared that Gould might have experienced a medical problem just before the accident.
According to Coover, the accident happened shortly after 5:30 p.m. after Gould passed a tractor-trailer in her gray 2004 Ford Escape near mile marker 238.
After completing the pass, Gould’s SUV gradually veered off the interstate, traveling 65 feet off the edge of the roadway and another 300 feet alongside it before slamming into a tree, Coover said, citing the account provided by the driver of the semi she passed.
The driver, whose name was not immediately released, was the only eyewitness.
The vehicle struck with such impact that it swung 180 degrees, he said. Then it began to smoke and caught fire, he said.
The driver and two other truckers who were the first to arrive on the scene used fire extinguishers they are required to keep in their tractor-trailers to put the fire out.
“There was no indicating that she lost control of the vehicle,” Coover said. He also said there was no indication or evidence that she applied her brakes.
The accident remains under investigation, Coover said. He said investigators will examine Gould’s vehicle to determine if any defects or malfunctions played a role in the accident. It was not yet clear if the state medical examiner’s office would be asked to perform an autopsy.
Among those who assisted at the scene were Maine State Police Sgt. Sean Hashey, Deputy Peter Stone of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and East Millinocket fire and emergency rescue personnel.