June 24, 2018
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Tractor-trailer careens into house, spills diesel after head-on crash in Auburn

By Staff, Sun Journal

AUBURN, Maine — A Sabattus man was injured Tuesday morning when his Chevrolet pickup truck drifted across Turner Road north of Lake Auburn and into an oncoming semi tractor-trailer.

The accident sent the tractor-trailer careening into a Turner Road house and spread diesel fuel around Turner Road near St. Phillips Church.

Auburn Police and Fire crews closed the road in both directions for several hours Wednesday while Public Works crews spread sand and worked to clean up the diesel spilled from the truck’s fuel tank.

Gerard Grondin, 85, of 372 Lisbon Road, Sabattus, was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center after the accident. He was reported to be in critical condition as of 2:30 p.m., according to hospital officials.

According to witnesses, Grondin, was southbound on Route 4 at about 9:45 a.m. and had just passed Lake Shore Drive when he began drifting into the northbound lanes.

Ashley LaGrange, 20, of Winter St. in Auburn, was headed north on Turner Road when she saw Grondin’s Chevy truck drift into her lane.

“I slowed down, because I thought he’d correct himself,” she said. “But he didn’t. He just kept right on coming.”

Grondin’s truck passed in front of LaGrange’s car and ran directly into a tractor-trailer, driven by Kenneth Huotari of Temple. Huotari was traveling northbound in the right-hand lane on Turner Road.

LaGrange said the impact sent Grondin’s truck bouncing into her Mazda 626 and forced her into the southbound lanes.

“But I was lucky, because nobody else was coming,” she said. Her car came to rest on the side of the road. It was damaged, but she was unhurt.

Huotari said Grondin’s car hit the front driver side of his tractor-trailer, forcing him across both the northbound left lane and two lanes of southbound traffic and into a house at 2834 Turner Road.

Mary Card, owner of that house, said she had just left to visit her mother on Lake Shore Drive.

“I heard the crash and saw the smoke,” she said. “It looked like it was coming from my house, so I walked over to see.”

The house was empty at the time. Huotari’s tractor-trailer ran into the south end of the house, into her kitchen.

“I really don’t know much else at this point,” she said.

Crews from Auburn Fire used extrication equipment to pull Grondin from his wrecked truck and he was taken to Central Maine Medical Center for treatment.

Route 4 was closed for hours Tuesday while crews worked to clean up the diesel that leaked from Huotari’s fuel tank, backing traffic up on either side and detouring it around Lake Auburn.

To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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