SEARSPORT, Maine — Police say that an accident caused by a woman who sheared off a utility pole Monday afternoon in downtown Searsport led to problems throughout town, including the loss of electricity — and the good manners of other motorists.
One motorist, apparently upset at being delayed and rerouted, even threw an orange at a firefighter directing traffic.
Police Chief Dick LaHaye said that driver Kelly Hynd, 44, of Cushing had been heading west on U.S. Route 1 when her cellphone rang.
“She looked down at the phone, took her eyes off the road momentarily, and when she looked up, the car veered to the right and sheared off the utility pole at ground level,” he said Tuesday.
Hynd’s vehicle, a 2005 Ford Escape, was totaled. Her air bag deployed and the car was draped in wires, he said. By the time emergency crews arrived — just moments later, because the accident happened right next to the fire station — she had managed to get out of the wrecked car. The driver, who complained of pain in her arms, was taken to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, where she was treated and released, the chief said.
No charges have been filed and the accident remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, the broken utility pole caused the loss of power, telephone and cable service throughout town, and traffic on the busy coastal thoroughfare had to be rerouted for about four hours, until repair crews from the various utilities could set up a new pole and get the services up and running again. The detour, which caused people to go about three miles out of the way, was not appreciated by other drivers, LaHaye said.
“We had some very rude, irate motorists, and quite frankly, I’m appalled,” he said.
One angry motorist threw an orange at one of the firefighters directing traffic on the detour. Officials weren’t able to get a license plate from the citrus-tosser, but that action, and the vocal complaints of other drivers, left a sour taste, LaHaye said.
“That’s just ignorant,” he said. “The last thing that law enforcement wants to do in any accident situation is to reroute traffic, but sometimes, for the safety of everyone, it’s the best thing to do.”
He said that while it would have been possible to leave one lane of traffic open on Route 1, the utility work would have caused substantial delays to traffic. LaHaye also had a plea for motorists to pay attention, both to the objects in their path and to lights and sirens from emergency vehicles.
“They’re used for a reason,” he said.