BARING, Maine — Passers-by helped passengers escape from a burning vehicle Saturday evening but were unable to rescue the 16-year-old driver who died in the crash.
Nicholas White of Calais was trapped inside the vehicle and died at the scene.
According to Sgt. Jeffrey Ingemi of the Maine State Police, the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday. White was driving a Miata convertible at a high rate of speed on Charlotte Road about a mile from the Charlotte town line when the vehicle went off the road and hit a tree.
The vehicle caught fire with White and three 16-year-old girls inside. According to Ingemi, one of the girls managed to crawl out of the vehicle on her own. Two passers-by stopped and were able to help the other two girls escape from the vehicle.
“There’s no question about it,” said Trooper Jason Fowler, the lead investigator for the accident, “those two passers-by definitely saved two lives.”
The names of the good Samaritans have not yet been released since the investigation is ongoing.
White’s legs were pinned and the rescuers were unable to remove him from the car.
“There was no way to get him out,” Ingemi said.
The state medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy on White’s body Sunday, but the results were not available by Sunday evening. Fowler said, however, that the fire was not the cause of White’s death.
The fire was intense and demolished the Miata, which was owned by one of the girls.
All three girls, one from Bangor and two from Calais, were taken to Calais Regional Hospital. One was transferred by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with possible head injuries. All three were reported to be in stable condition on Sunday, and Ingemi said two already may have been released from the hospital.
Their names have not been released.
Speed was definitely a factor in the accident, according to Ingemi. Trooper Jessica Shorey reconstructed the accident, and the initial estimates put the speed of the vehicle at close to 85 mph.
“He was definitely going way too fast,” Ingemi said. “Other people in the car told him to slow down just before it happened.”
White’s license had been suspended for a previous charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. At this point, Fowler said, there is no reason to believe that alcohol was a factor in the accident. White’s blood-alcohol level will be checked, which is standard procedure in a fatal accident.
It appears that all in the vehicle were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, Fowler said.
Crews from the Baring, Calais and Charlotte fire departments went to the accident, which remains under investigation.