HAMPDEN, Maine — The East Millinocket man who was driving a dump truck that collided with a train Thursday morning is in good condition at Eastern Maine Medical Center, having suffered a few cracked ribs and a potentially fractured pelvis, according to his mother.
Hampden police Officer Joel Small told area television stations that a brake condition may have contributed to the crash. An initial investigation revealed that five of the eight brakes on the truck may have not been functioning properly. Small did not return messages left by the Bangor Daily News Friday morning.
Frederick Lindsay, 63, of East Millinocket was driving east on Route 202 and wasn’t able to stop in time as he approached the tracks near Mayo Road. He swerved to avoid a vehicle that had stopped at the railroad crossing, but went on to collide with a Maine, Montreal and Atlantic Railway train, Small said at the scene.
“When it happened, he said he thought it was the end of him,” Madeline Lindsay, 79, of Howland said of her son Friday afternoon. “He’s very lucky to be alive. He’s tough.”
Lindsay visited her son at the hospital Thursday after the crash.
“He was kind of groggy. They were working on him, but he seemed pretty lucid,” she said in a telephone interview. “It was serious. He was lucky to be alive.”
Frederick Lindsay Jr. has driven large vehicles for work on and off since he drove for the Marine Corps at age 18, his mother said. He spent about seven years in the Marines.
“He’s a good driver,” Madeline Lindsay said of her son. The vehicle was loaded with dirt and heading downhill at the time of the crash.
Madeline Lindsay said her son started driving the dump truck for M&S Trucking earlier this summer after struggling to find work all winter.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation records, Medway-based M&S Trucking is a one-vehicle operation owned by Steve and Martha Kimball of Medway. The truck is a 1990 International Model 9370 with 780,000 miles on the odometer as of its registration date in February of this year, according to state records.
Attempts to reach the Kimballs on Thursday and Friday were unsuccessful.
Lindsay was trapped inside the wreckage for more than an hour as rescue crews worked to free him. A LifeFlight helicopter took him to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment.
The Federal Railroad Administration tracks every railroad incident in the United States, including those that involve collisions at crossings, which it calls a “rail-highway incident.” Those incidents occur when there is an “impact between a rail and a highway user at a crossing site, regardless of severity,” according to the FRA. These typically involve a vehicle and a train, but sometimes occur with a pedestrian in a public or private crossing, according to the administration.
In the past decade, 53 rail-highway incidents have occurred at Maine’s 1,600-plus railroad crossings. Four resulted in fatalities.
None had been reported so far in 2013, but the latest update was in May of this year.
The FRA statistics do not give details of the incidents.