BELFAST, Maine — A driver was killed Wednesday afternoon when his SUV collided with a tractor-trailer cab on Route 1.
The accident caused the busy coastal thoroughfare to be closed for about three hours, according to Officer Eric Kelley of the Belfast Police Department.
Kelley did not identify the driver of the green Chevrolet Blazer pending notification of the man’s family.
According to Kelley, the driver of the Blazer had been traveling north when he apparently began to drive erratically. Members of a Maine Department of Transportation crew who were heading south told police later that the driver had his head down and was in the wrong lane. They said they had to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle.
Although those workers thought the man in the Blazer might be texting, Kelley said no cell phone was found in the vehicle. It was possible the driver had some kind of medical emergency, though that has yet to be determined, the officer said.
When the tractor-trailer cab from Northeast Transport in Waldoboro approached the Blazer, the SUV had swerved all the way into the opposite breakdown lane.
“The truck tried to avoid him,” Kelley said.
But at the same time, the driver of the Blazer apparently raised his head and tried to correct his path, Kelley said.
The two vehicles collided on their drivers’ sides on Route 1, just south of the intersection with Route 52, at about 3 p.m.
Neither vehicle had any passengers. “Thank God,” Kelley said.
A LifeFlight helicopter landed on Route 1 to take the driver to the hospital, but the victim ended up being transported to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast via ambulance, Kelley said.
Belfast police officers diverted both lanes of traffic around the accident.
The driver of the tractor-trailer truck, who also was not named, was being checked out at the Belfast hospital, but he did not appear to be seriously injured according to Kelley.
Deputy Ben Seekins of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office was leading efforts to reconstruct the accident. Also assisting at the scene were members of the Belfast Fire Department, Maine State Police and Waldo County Emergency Management Agency.
Dale Rowley, director of the Waldo County EMA, said his agency would coordinate with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to handle an estimated 35 gallons of diesel fuel that had spilled from the truck.