Friends of the Tennessee couple who were critically injured when a pickup truck hit their motorcycle head-on last week are seeking assistance for family members who traveled north to be by their side and comfort them.
Cecil and Linda Gentry, both 62, of Algood, Tenn., were riding a 2004 Harley-Davidson and towing a trailer on U.S. Route 1 in Northport on July 18 when they were hit by a 2001 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Karen Roberts, 51, of Belfast. Roberts had been crossing into the other lane before the crash and it is believed she was experiencing a medical problem while behind the wheel. She continued on another four miles to Belfast before stopping.
The Gentrys were taken by LifeFlight to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where they remained in critical condition on Tuesday. Marsha Wilson-Wolff of Cookeville, Tenn., said Tuesday that both Gentrys lost their right legs in the crash and are being treated for other injuries as well. Linda Gentry suffered a brain injury and crushed pelvis. Cecil Gentry may lose his right hand, she said.
Wilson-Wolff, who is a part owner with the Gentrys in The Hawg Barn Restaurant in Cookeville, said the couple were recent retirees. The Gentrys and their friends are avid motorcycle riders and they were on their way home from a trip to Canada when the accident happened. Wilson-Wolff said the trip into the Northeast was “their lifelong dream.”
Wilson-Wolff said The Hawg Barn “caters to older folk who like to ride” and has been the site of numerous benefits, dinners, auctions and bike runs, to raise funds for the ill or injured and for children on the holidays.
“They are very active in our community and have done a lot to help children and the handicapped,” Wilson-Wolff said of the Gentrys. “Now they are the ones in need.”
She said the Cookeville community has already rallied to the Gentrys and that bike runs and other benefits had already been scheduled. She said she planned to contact motorcycle groups, such as United Bikers of Maine, to inquire whether its membership would be willing to lend a hand.
“If there is anyone or agency in your hometown that would like to contribute funds to keep family members there with them we would appreciate this as they will be there for a while it seems, and they are so far from home,” she said. “[They] will incur expenses just to keep their kids housed and fed and close to them.”
The accident occurred at 11:50 a.m. Friday and happened moments after a motorist following Roberts’ 2001 Chevrolet pickup called the Waldo County Communications Center to report an erratic driver who was all over the road. The Gentrys were riding behind with another Cookeville couple who managed to avoid the truck when it veered into their lane on a curve in the highway near Northport Marine. The truck then collided with the Gentrys.
The couple were thrown from their bike and onto the pavement. Police and firefighters at the scene categorized their injuries as very severe and they were rushed by ambulance to Waldo County General Hospital and from there to EMMC.
Although the truck had major damage to the front end, Roberts left the scene and proceeded toward Belfast. About a mile away the truck’ s right front wheel and driving gear broke off and it could be seen on the side of the road near The Outdoor Sportsman.
Despite having only three wheels, Roberts managed to drive the truck another three miles before crashing into the ditch near the Little River bridge, just over the Belfast line. She was taken to Waldo County General Hospital by Belfast police. Roberts is believed to have experienced an undetermined medical issue moments before the accident. She was treated and then released at the hospital in Belfast.
For those interested in assisting the Gentrys, Wilson-Wolff may be reached at 931-528-2337 or at the Hawg Barn at 931-528-2337.