SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — In one of the season’s first wintry nights, the Police and Fire departments were busy with multiple cars sliding off the icy roads, colliding into each other and even one which caught on fire.
Fire Chief George Gorman said for nearly three hours Monday night the department was tied up on Route 91 at the intersection of Witchtrot Road after it responded to one accident and then a pileup of several cars at the bottom of a hill nearby.
Route 91/York Woods Road was closed for a period of time Monday night as workers responded to the series of accidents.
The Fire Department posted on its Facebook page, “If you don’t need to be out on the roads, please stay home.”
Gorman said the first call of the evening came in at 6 p.m. for a slide-off at 41 Witchtrot Road. He said the woman who lives at 49 Witchtrot Road slid off the road, but was not injured.
Police reports said Vicki Parmley, 61, was driving too fast for conditions when she lost traction, counter-steered and then went off the road and into a tree. Her 2008 Ford Ranger came to a rest on a stone wall and received some front-end damage.
“There are always accidents close to home,” Gorman said.
As police and fire finished up at that scene another call came in involving four vehicles at the bottom of the hill on Route 91 at the intersection with Witchtrot Road.
“They were all sliding down the hill,” said Gorman. “One hit a tree and caught on fire.” In the span of 10 minutes there were several vehicles involved in accidents, three of which had to be pulled from the ditch.
“It was a busy night,” he said.
According to police accident reports, Tyler J. Robertson, 22, of Kittery had checked his brakes in response to the slippery conditions, but slid across the centerline of the roadway, off the road and into a large tree at approximately 6:56 p.m. His 2006 Hyundai SUV then caught on fire.
The report said, “The roadway was extremely slippery due to freezing rain and there was a number of other crashes or slide-offs in the immediate area at the same time.”
The report also indicated Robertson had said the car was new to him and he “wasn’t very familiar with its standard transmission,” a fact which “may have contributed to his inability to control the vehicle.”
Ten minutes prior, Margery Okeefe, 46, of 80 Old South Road, rear-ended Robert Zechel, 46, of 13 Annie St. in Berwick, when he lost traction while driving down the hill and began sliding off the road. There was some damage to the front passenger corner of Okeefe’s 2008 Dodge Caliber and to the rear driver’s side of Zechel’s 2003 Chevy Malibu.
Gorman said the calls took three hours to clear up as they had to wait for tow and salt trucks to respond to the area.
“By 9 p.m. we were all done,” he said.
The accident reports didn’t list any injuries to the drivers involved.
Distributed by MCT Information Services