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BELFAST, Maine — Police and emergency responders raced Wednesday afternoon from one multiple-car accident on Swan Lake Avenue to a second two-car collision that happened right in front of Waldo County General Hospital.
The second accident, which involved a man driving a pickup truck and a woman driving a Nissan Juke, trapped the badly injured woman in her car and the Jaws of Life were needed to cut her out of the smashed vehicle.
Officer Rick Smith said at the scene of the second accident, which occurred about 5 p.m., that he did not yet have the names of the drivers or details about their injuries. He did say that the location will help get them to medical care quickly. He also said that two Belfast Ambulance vehicles had just finished dropping off people injured from the first accident and were able to get to the scene of the second crash very quickly.
Every single police officer on duty in the city was tied up at the Northport Avenue scene of the second accident. Most of them had just traveled from the Swan Lake Avenue three-car collision, which sent three people to the hospital, including a young girl.
That accident happened about 4 p.m. when a mother traveling from Belfast with her three young children strapped into their car seats and booster seats stopped to turn left into her parents’ driveway, according to Smith. The woman, Jennifer Faulkingham, 29, of Belfast, was waiting for oncoming traffic to clear when she was rear-ended by an older-model pickup truck driven by Joseph Benney, 48, of Monroe.
Benney drove straight into her, Smith said, braking at the last minute and driving Faulkingham’s car into an oncoming vehicle, a later-model Mitsubishi SUV headed toward Belfast. The driver of that car, 51-year-old David Alley of Lincolnville, suffered two broken arms and possibly other injuries, Smith said.
Faulkingham had unspecified injuries, and her daughter bit through her lip because of the impact. All three were taken to Waldo County General to be treated, and no further information about their conditions was available later Wednesday afternoon. Smith said the injuries were not life-threatening.
The other two boys, who also were younger than 9, were shaken up but didn’t appear to be physically injured, police said.
Benney was issued a citation for distracted driving after the crash, which remains under investigation. Police said it did not appear that Benney had been using a cellphone at the time of the accident, but that drivers have a duty to pay attention to the road in front of them.
All three cars were totaled.
Cynthia Aho, who lives on Swan Lake Avenue, said that many accidents happen at that spot, which is between two fairly tight curves. There are many houses in that stretch, with children who play in the yards, and cars often go faster than the posted speed limit, which is 45 mph, she said.
“The speed limit really needs to be lowered. We have to be so, so cautious pulling out of our driveways,” she said. “I’ve even had an accident in my front yard. You hear brakes squealing all the time.”
She said that because it is a state route, the Maine Department of Transportation is the agency that would be able to lower the speed limit.
“They need to listen to the people who live here,” she said. “It’s a very traveled road. By the time people get here, they’re really speeding.”