CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — A runner is credited with saving the life of a former Coplin Plantation town clerk Friday after he spotted the tail lights of her vehicle, roof down, in the Carrabassett River.
Dave Koenig of Coplin Plantation and his dog were running along the Narrow Gauge path across the river from Route 27 where Ivah Palmer, 82, of Coplin Plantation went off the road, Carrabassett Valley Police Officer Courtney Krause said.
Palmer was driving a 2001 Saab north on Route 27, between Reddington and Highland Roads, about noon when she veered off the road and went through a ditch for about 150 yards before her vehicle rolled over a rock embankment, landing roof-down in the river, Krause said.
She was in the river for nearly 20 minutes before Koenig spotted the lights.
From the road angle, the lights couldn’t be seen from Route 27 but Koenig could see it from the opposite side of the river, she said. Palmer was able to get out of the driver’s seat and become upright.
Koenig and his golden retriever, Stanley, had just passed Reddington when he saw something red in the river. He took a couple more steps and realized it was tail lights, he said later Friday afternoon.
When he couldn’t see any cars stopped at the site, Koenig and Stanley “trudged, swam across the river” to Palmer’s car, he said.
He could hear movement in the vehicle and realized he couldn’t get herself out by himself. They ran up the bank and flagged down a couple. The woman took care of his dog while the driver and a Webber Energy driver, Michael Moore of Dixfield, went down with him to help Palmer out, he said.
The three helped her up to the road. She was in a vehicle wrapped in a blanket with the heater on when police arrived, Krause said.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Koenig said. “It all happened so fast.”
Koenig estimated he spotted her about 11:55 and she was out of the car by noon with police arriving shortly after, he said.
“She had a lot of stuff going for her today,” he said.
There were no other runners along the trail. There were tracks where her vehicle went off the road but no trees of bushes were pushed down from the vehicle going down the bank, he said.
Maybe a passenger in a tractor-trailer could have seen the vehicle down the bank in the river but no other drivers on Route 27 would have, he said.
Palmer received non-life threatening injuries including a broken leg and was transported to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington by NorthStar ambulance, she said.
Police are not sure why Palmer went off the road.
Between the cold temperatures of the high water and the car rolling into the river, not seen from the road, Palmer was fortunate and Koenig is a hero, Krause said.
Palmer’s vehicle was hauled from the river by Bryan’s Autobody of New Vineyard.