Snowfall causes accidents across Maine

Posted Jan. 16, 2013, at 7:07 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2013, at 2:29 p.m.

GRAY, Maine — Much of the state received a fresh coat of snow Wednesday, but not nearly as much as Maine’s last round of snowfall dumped.

According to the National Weather Service office in Caribou, Bangor had received 1.8 inches snowfall by 7 p.m.

Meteorologist Dustin Jordan said the accumulation ranged from a low of 0.3 inches in Caribou to 6.0 inches in Kingsbury.

“Everything was pretty close in line to what we were expecting from this system,” Jordan said. “Around Millinocket, they got around 4 inches. Sherman received 2.2.”

Other totals included 5.0 inches for Topsfield, 4.0 inches for Greenville and 2.0 inches for Machias.

The weather service in Gray issued a winter weather advisory, initially from 9 a.m. to midnight, but it was dropped around 8 p.m., according to Jordan. Accumulations of 3 to 5 inches initially were expected with higher amounts possible in some locations. Roads were slippery and visibility was reduced to a half mile or less. Temperatures hovered in the 20s and 30s.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the state dealt with numerous reports of vehicles going off the road.

A state police dispatcher said Wednesday morning that “we are very busy.”

The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike has been reduced from 65 mph to 45 mph because of the conditions.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said late Wednesday morning that both southbound lanes of Interstate 295 in Yarmouth were blocked by a tractor-trailer.

The truck driven by Adrian Hutchinson, 35, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was cut off by a car just south of Exit 17, causing Hutchinson’s rig to jackknife, McCausland said.

Hutchinson told police at the scene that the car cut him off near the interchange, forcing him to swerve, McCausland said. The truck came to rest wedged between guardrails on both sides of the southbound lane. A fuel tank on the truck ruptured, resulting in a leak of diesel fuel.

Traffic was rerouted from the interstate at Exit 17 to Route 1 while crews cleaned up the scene, McCausland said. The southbound lanes reopened to traffic shortly after 1 p.m.

Traffic was backed up well into Freeport while the scene was cleaned up, according to McCausland.

Further south in Scarborough, Trooper Michael Smith dealt with a two-vehicle accident involving a Toyota Prius and a tractor-trailer.

Smith said that crash, which occurred in the southbound lanes at Mile 42, was reported just after 10 a.m.

The driver of the Prius, Shelly Suzuki, 39, of Lewiston lost control in the passing lane and struck a rig driven by Dennis Desmarais, 45, of Chester, N.H., Smith said.

Suzuki’s vehicle crossed all three lanes of traffic and struck a guardrail before hitting Desmarais’ truck and striking the same guardrail again, the trooper said. The Prius came dangerously close to going underneath the truck, he added.

Neither driver required medical attention, but Suzuki’s Prius was demolished.

Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said his department handled reports of four crashes in an hour on Wednesday morning but none of them were serious.

In Waterville, police dealt with a crash that sent two people to the hospital with minor injuries.

Ryan Messer, 19, of Bingham slid into a telephone pole on Western Avenue just after 11 a.m., according to Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey.

Riding with Messer was his wife, Kayla Messer, 21, who suffered minor injuries. Both Messers were taken to Thayer Hospital for treatment, Rumsey said.