FALMOUTH, Maine — Slippery road conditions that led to vehicles sliding off the Maine Turnpike kept state troopers busy throughout the day Wednesday.
“We had dozens and dozens of cars going off the road,” Trooper Roger Teachout said Thursday morning.
One accident Teachout dealt with late Wednesday night involving a tractor-trailer and a Chevrolet sedan at mile marker 57 could have been a lot worse, he said.
The sedan, driven by Komlan Late, 50, of Westbrook was heading north when he lost control of his vehicle while attempting to pass a rig driven by Max Draper, 62, of Corinna, the trooper said. Late was traveling in the right-hand lane while Draper was in the left lane.
Teachout added that Late was traveling too fast for the road conditions, which were slick at the time, lowering the speed limit on the turnpike to 45 miles per hour.
“The truck saw the vehicle start to spin and couldn’t get out of the way,” Teachout said.
That caused Draper’s rig to jackknife, and even though the truck driver turned to the right as quickly as possible, he struck the side of Late’s car, nearly hitting him head-on, Teachout said.
The cab of Draper’s truck wound up in a ditch while the trailer was blocking the travel lane of the turnpike, according to Teachout, while Late’s car came to a stop in the roadway, facing southbound.
The trooper said Department of Environmental Protection officials were called in as 70 gallons of diesel fuel from the truck spilled into the median.
“It was a tanker and when I drove by I could smell gas,” Teachout said. “I wasn’t sure if it was a fuel truck, but it ended up being a milk truck and it was empty.”
Neither driver required medical attention, but Teachout said Late felt the brunt of the crash.
“I’ve got a feeling Mr. Late is going to be pretty sore,” he said.
Draper’s truck, which sustained minor damage, is owned by Lyle Pierce, Inc., out of Newport, while Lane’s vehicle was demolished in the crash. Teachout said it took nearly two hours to clean the scene up, and traffic was reduced to one lane.
Speed limits on the turnpike have since been returned to normal.