TOWNSHIP 2, RANGE 8, Maine — A 19-year-old Van Buren man died after a rollover accident Sunday morning on Interstate 95.
The deceased man, who was the driver of the 1999 Chevrolet Blazer that rolled over, was identified as Tyler Anderson, Trooper Thomas Fiske of the Maine State Police said late Sunday afternoon.
Five others were injured, though the injuries were not considered life-threatening, the trooper said.
Heidi Kennedy, 34, the driver’s aunt and also of Van Buren, suffered significant injuries, Fiske said. He said that Kennedy initially was taken to Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln but later was transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Her medical condition was not immediately available.
The four others who were injured also were taken to the Lincoln hospital, Fiske said. Their names were withheld because they are juveniles, ages 9, 12, 13 and 15, he said.
“One of the kids actually was ejected. That kid walked away with just scratches,” Fiske said. “They all were wearing seat belts except for the young lady that was ejected,” he said. “Actually, they exceeded the amount of people that should have been in the vehicle.”
The Blazer was designed to hold five people, he said. The girl who was ejected was sitting in the cargo area behind the back seat, he said.
Fiske did say, however, that two of the children are Anderson’s siblings and the other two are Kennedy’s children. Their injuries included a possible broken ankle as well as cuts and scrapes, he said.
Fiske attributed the accident, which is being reconstructed, to driver inattention and inexperience.
Fiske said the accident happened about 9:40 a.m. at mile marker 228, just north of the Lincoln exit, in the northbound traveling lanes. The group was returning from a trip to Rhode Island.
Anderson drifted onto the rumble strip, overcorrected, crossed the centerline and then left the highway. The vehicle then rolled several times before landing on its wheels, he said.
“There was a conversation between [Anderson and Kennedy] and he looked over to say something to her. When he looked to the right, you have a tendency to go where you look, so the vehicle went to the right slightly, enough to get him into the rumble strip,” Fiske said.
“I think he panicked when that happened and jerked the wheel back to the left,” he said.
State police and a LifeFlight helicopter were among those who were called to the accident scene.
Ivan Curtis of East Millinocket was returning from Bangor near mile marker 229, just north of the Lincoln exit, when he saw what appeared to be a Jeep rolled over alongside the road and a man frantically waving his arms to get Curtis to stop, he said.
“It was a rollover. I did not see it flip. There were six people in the car. They were all banged up pretty badly,” Curtis said Sunday. “There were three people in the car and they were pinned in. Two were conscious. One was unconscious.”
No emergency responders had yet arrived when he came upon the accident.
A foster parent familiar with first aid, the 75-year-old Curtis did what he could for the injured. He checked the pulse of a small girl lying on the edge of the highway. She initially was unconscious. She awoke soon after but stayed prone, Curtis said.
A man half-pinned under the Jeep appeared to be the worst-injured, Curtis said. He was unconscious but breathing, said Curtis, who checked the man’s pulse.
A Lincoln firefighter later told Curtis that the man had died briefly but was revived in the LifeFlight helicopter.
A woman in the vehicle had a bad cut, and Curtis told her to keep pressure on the wound.
Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life rescue device and lifts to get the pinned man and the others free. That took some time owing to the damage to the vehicle, Curtis said.
“They said it was a Jeep, but you could not tell, it was so bad,” Curtis said.
Firefighters and ambulances from East Millinocket, Lincoln and possibly Howland fire departments came to the scene, Curtis said.
Curtis said that an ambulance might have accidentally grounded the helicopter when it struck an unmoving rotor as the ambulance pulled away from the accident.
“It was pretty chaotic there for awhile,” Curtis said.