CARMEL, Maine — The volunteer firefighter who was taken to the hospital after the firetruck she was riding in went off the road has been released, according to Carmel Fire Chief Mike Azevedo.
A fire tanker from the Carmel Volunteer Fire Department was traveling about 5:45 p.m. Sunday to a mobile home after reports of smoke when the truck approached the crest of a hill and its wheels got into the soft dirt on the right side of the road, pulling the truck toward the ditch.
“She’s all right. She banged up her leg,” Azevedo said on Monday.
Stephanie Smith-Graham had unbuckled her safety belt to get a better view of where the smoke was just before the truck went off the road, according to Azevedo.
Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jamie Kennedy, who is investigating the crash, was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Azevedo said the firetruck’s driver, volunteer firefighter Will Lane, went to the right in order to avoid a vehicle on the centerline of Route 69 and hit a dip in the road.
“He lost [control off] the front end [after hitting the dip] and that’s when he hit the shoulder,” said Azevedo. “The homeowner said there’s been other vehicles to go off in that same spot because of that dip.”
The firetruck came to a stop just before a clump of trees near 409 Hampden Road.
Witnesses who saw the crash on Sunday told officials at the scene that they didn’t see another vehicle heading in the opposite direction when the firetruck went off the road.
The truck will be taken to a repair facility in Auburn where the damage will be assessed, Azevedo said.
“They’ll look at what the damage extent is. If it’s just some broken bolts, they’ll fix it,” said Azevedo. “If the frame is bent, they won’t want to fix that for an emergency vehicle. I have requested they check everything, bumper to bumper.”
The 1992 rescue pumper is valued at $300,000, according to Azevedo.
The fire chief was quick to commend the truck’s driver for not panicking. Lane has a commercial driver’s license, he said.
“That’s why he was able to keep the truck straight,” Azevedo said. “A younger driver who doesn’t have that experience might have tried to get it back on the road and may have rolled it over. That may have resulted in more serious injuries.”
Azevedo said that Smith-Graham will be back with the volunteer department in about a week. After the crash, she was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. She was released later that night, he said.
The injury likely would have been avoided had she stayed buckled up, he said.
“If she had her seat belt on, she would’ve been better off,” he said. “It’s a lesson for her and a lesson for others.”