A funeral home employee transporting a body died Monday evening when a Hummer struck his van from behind and pushed him several hundred feet off Route 202 in Greene, authorities said.
Richard Charest of Winthrop was nearing the intersection of Route 202 and Daggett Hill Road when a Hummer driven by Donald Asseling, 58, of Sabattus crested a hill behind him and struck the rear of his Ford Flex minivan, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.
The collision, which happened around 6 p.m., pushed Charest’s van several hundred feet off the road, down an embankment and into trees, McCausland said. Charest died at the scene.
Charest, 59, worked at Knowlton and Hewins Funeral Home in Winthrop, and on Monday was headed there at the time of the crash. He was carrying in his minivan the body of a recently deceased patient from a hospice in Auburn, McCausland said. The body, which remained inside the van after it was struck, was later transported the remaining way by another funeral home employee, according to the owner.
Asseling suffered minor injuries in the crash, but required no medical immediate attention, police said. No charges have been brought against him at this time.
“We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy,” said owner Lynn Roberts Reed on Tuesday. Knowlton and Hewins is “tight knit” operation of about ten, and Charest was a valued member, she said.
She declined to comment on the condition of the body Charest was bringing from Auburn, citing the police’s ongoing investigation.
Route 202 was shut down for three hours Monday night as police and first responders investigated the scene.
Only one witness had come forward as witness to the crash as of Tuesday afternoon, and state police are looking for more as they continue to investigate the crash. That work continued into Tuesday, McCausland said. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the Maine State Police dispatch center in Gray at 657-3030.
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