EDDINGTON, Maine — An Eddington woman was injured in an unusual accident Tuesday that sent her car airborne into the parking lot of Eddington School.
The accident happened about 2:45 p.m., when Pauline Matot, 67, was driving east on Route 9 and reportedly dozed off less than half a mile from her home, according to Penobscot County sheriff’s Deputy Daren Mason.
A witness who saw the accident in his rearview mirror told Mason that he saw the woman’s 2010 Toyota Corolla cross the centerline, then the westbound travel lane and then drive down into the paved culvert in front of school, Mason said.
The impact caused the car’s front end to dig into the dirt — throwing football- and softball-sized rocks a distance of about 40 yards — after which the car catapulted about 30 yards into the school parking lot, where it came to a rest, Mason said.
The impact also caused an accordionlike crease in the car’s roof and drove the front driver’s side tire into the floorboard firewall, Mason said.
Because there were no skid marks in the roadway, Mason said, it appears that Matot did not apply the brakes, which means she could have struck the culvert at a speed as high as 40 mph, the posted speed limit on that stretch of road except for school day mornings and afternoons, when it drops to 15 mph.
Because she was wearing her seat belt and because her car’s air bags deployed, Matot’s injuries were limited to cuts and scrapes to her face and head, the deputy said. Her car was demolished.
“She was quite disoriented, dazed and confused,” Mason said, adding that she told emergency medical personnel that she “must have fallen asleep.”
Had the accident happened while school was in session, the parking lot could have been filled with students, staff, parents and buses, among other things, said Mason, who regularly patrols the area at the start and end of each school day.
Because it is summer vacation, however, there were only a few staff members’ vehicles in the lot and those were parked close to the school, which is set back a good distance from Route 9, he said. None of those vehicles were damaged.
“Thank God,” he said, adding that 2:45 p.m. is an active time in the parking lot. “If there had been [school], there definitely would have been more carnage.”