Ripley woman escapes injury when van strikes garbage truck, catches fire

Posted Sept. 13, 2012, at 11:54 a.m.

View Levant, Me. in a larger map

LEVANT, Maine — A Ripley woman escaped injury after the van she was driving struck a garbage truck on Route 222 and burst into flames Thursday morning.

Jessica Sinclair, 34, was headed westbound on Union Street around 9 a.m. when she rear-ended a Maine Waste Systems truck driven by James Maynard, 45, of Glenburn, Deputy Ed Toulouse of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office said.

Toulouse said the garbage truck had stopped to gather items near the town’s post office, and Sinclair, who was not driving at a high rate of speed, rear-ended the driver’s side of the vehicle when the sun blinded her.

Fortunately, Andrew Peasdale, 26, of Glenburn, who rides on the back of the truck, was on the opposite side.

“He was very close to getting seriously hurt or killed,” Toulouse said.

Sinclair was very fortunate as well, the deputy said, as her vehicle quickly burst into flames after the collision. She was able to get out safely while Maynard was able to get the truck out of harm’s way.

“All parties involved were very lucky,” said Toulouse, adding that Sinclair “was very somber and very upset” at the scene.

Because the driver’s compartment in Sinclair’s vehicle was not jammed in the collision, she was able to get out safely, Toulouse said.

Her van was destroyed by the fire, which Toulouse said burned through to the tar on the roadway.

Hermon and Levant fire and rescue personnel managed to get the fire under control and the scene cleaned up fairly quickly, Toulouse said, but the road was shut down in both directions for about a half hour.

None of the people involved in the accident was injured, according to Toulouse. He said speed was not a factor in the crash.

“The sun was in her eyes,” said Toulouse, noting that Sinclair applied her brakes to try to avoid the collision, but “it was just too late.”