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BANGOR, Maine — Two sisters from Canada on a bus shopping trip to Bangor remained hospitalized Monday after being hit by a van driven by an 83-year-old Brewer man on Hogan Road on Sunday evening.
One of the women, who was listed in critical condition at Eastern Maine Medical Center, might have died at the scene if not for the actions of an off-duty registered nurse, police said in a news release.
Sandra Samuel, 62, of Lutes Mountain, New Brunswick, was in critical condition and her sister, Carole Day, 66, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was in fair condition at EMMC on Monday night.
Day and Samuel were crossing Hogan Road just south of the intersection of Hogan Road and Longview Drive — where The Olive Garden restaurant parking lot is situated — when they were struck about 6 p.m. Sunday by a 2003 GMC van driven by Willis Martin, 81, of Brewer.
Bonnie Martin, a cardiovascular nurse for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems’ Center for Family Medicine in Bangor, and daughter Ashley Patterson, a radiographer at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, were right behind Willis’ van at the traffic lights.
“The light was red, and we were waiting with traffic everywhere, and it was quite dark,” Martin recalled. “I noticed two females coming across from Olive Garden to the motel area. It caught my eye because I saw movement, but they were wearing dark clothes. As I watched them cross, the light turned green and traffic started forward.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, he doesn’t see them, and they’re going to get hit.’ I saw one female victim off to the right, but never saw the other, so I knew there was trouble.”
Martin pulled her vehicle off to the right side onto the shoulder with its headlights shining toward the van and put her car’s flashers on.
“I was first on scene. It was horrific,” said Martin. “I saw the first female sitting upright and she was hysterical, so I moved over to the second woman and told my daughter to stay with the one who was moving.”
The registered nurse 16 years — 14 at EMMC and the last 18 months at Family Medicine — quickly went into professional mode despite the trauma she saw.
“I have assisted at other accident scenes before, but nothing at this level,” she said. “I’ve always said that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they choose to get involved, so I immediately went into nurse mode and knelt beside her.”
Martin was afraid of what she would discover, as Samuel’s face was obscured by the hood on her jacket.
“I took a deep breath, removed the hood, and looked for breathing,” she said. “There was a lot of blood. She was obviously traumatized, but I saw her chest moving up and down, and there was a pulse.”
Martin said Samuel’s face was turned in the direction of the front tire of the van, about a “finger’s width” away from it. She said Samuel’s mouth was full of blood, and she also had an obviously severe arm injury.
“I told someone to move the vehicle so I could help her breathe,” Martin said. Her daughter jumped in the van and moved it backward a few feet, she said.
“I saw I needed to open her airway, so I removed her dentures and cleared her mouth out,” Martin added. “My daughter went and grabbed my first aid kit from my car, and I put on gloves, cleaned her mouth out with gauze and tried to keep her airway open until EMS arrived.”
Martin said time seemed to stand still as she tried to help Samuel and as her daughter, who is five months’ pregnant, assisted Samuel’s sister.
“It always seems like an eternity, but they were there within minutes from Station 5,” said the Arkansas native, who has been living in Maine for the last 22 years. “I can’t say enough about Bangor PD and Bangor Station 5, and how they responded.”
Martin, who is a Basic Life Support instructor and an American Heart Association Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor, told EMS personnel what she’d done, and they took over.
Both injured women received further treatment at the scene from Bangor Fire Department personnel before being taken to EMMC.
“I just wanted to give her the opportunity to try to survive,” Martin said. “I really hope she pulls through. I truly believe she has at least another 24 hours she may not have had otherwise.”
Martin said she normally wouldn’t have been off, but was because of the Veterans Day holiday.
Officers from the Orono Police Department’s accident reconstruction team are assisting in the investigation. No charges are expected at this time.
Two other witnesses assisted Martin and Patterson after the accident, police said.
Because of incorrect information supplied by Bangor police, an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the driver involved in the crash on Hogan Road that injured two Canadian women. The driver was Willis Martin, 81, of Brewer, not Martin Willis.