FRANKFORT, Maine — When Elizabeth Johnson pulled over Friday afternoon near the scene of last week’s fatal car crash and called for her missing black labrador, Molly, something wonderful happened.
Molly — painfully thin and suffering from a broken leg — came out of the woods to jump in the arms of her owner.
“With her three good legs, she limped up the hill,” Johnson, 20, of Waldoboro said. “It was like that scene in [the Disney movie] “Homeward Bound” … Her tail, it must have been wagging 100 miles a second. She was full of wags and kisses for me.”
The 40-pound lab with a sweet disposition had gone missing after the Nov. 8 accident which claimed the life of William Dunham, 79, of Frankfort.
Susan and Powell Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson’s parents, had been driving on Route 1A with Molly in the backseat when Dunham’s vehicle collided head-on with theirs. Police said that wet roads may have caused the crash.
When emergency responders pried the door off to help Powell Johnson, who was badly injured, Molly got startled and ran off into the woods.
Despite the efforts of many people in the area who have called or kept an eye out for the family pet, Molly stayed lost until Elizabeth and her boyfriend decided to try looking for her near the accident scene. They had heard from employees at the Family Country Market in Frankfort that customers had seen a black lab around the accident site, Elizabeth Johnson said.
Susan Johnson also had returned to the accident scene earlier this week to look for Molly, but to no avail.
“I called my mom and gave her the news. She started bawling, she’s so happy,” she said.
Johnson then took Molly to Ridge Runner Veterinary Services in Winterport, where they washed her down and put a cast on her broken leg. The cast has a heart on it that says “Welcome Home,” Johnson said.
“I’m just so happy that she’s home. I missed her so much,” she said.
Molly, who needs to get food, water and rest, will be recuperating along with Johnson’s parents. Powell Johnson, 64, suffered six broken ribs, a broken leg and hip, and a shattered foot in the accident. He is at a rehabilitation facility now. Susan Johnson, 49, suffered a concussion and bruised hip and ribs.
For a few days, Molly was “famous on Facebook,” Elizabeth Johnson said, as Mainers living near and far spread the word that a scared, loved family pet was missing.
“It’s amazing how much support I have seen from the community,” she said. “There were people messaging me from Facebook that I had never met before.”
In addition to offering prayers and good wishes, some of those people shared helpful ideas of how to track Molly down. And after Johnson found Molly Friday afternoon, some people immediately began to reach out, offering to set up an account to pay her veterinary bills, she said.
“You feel not only less alone about it, but people said that they had gone through similar things and gotten their animals back,” Johnson said. “It was great to receive that much support.”