Palermo man charged with operating under the influence after ATV crash that injured rider

Posted July 15, 2013, at 1:40 p.m.

LIBERTY, Maine — A Palermo man was arrested and charged Friday night with operating an all-terrain vehicle under the influence after he allegedly crashed his machine, causing his passenger to be seriously injured.

Jeffrey Wooden, 27, allegedly had been operating the ATV near Old County Road in Liberty when the crash happened at about 9:50 p.m. Friday, according to Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office.

Trafton said Monday morning that Donald Foster, a resident of Old County Road, heard a scream outside his home, and when he went to investigate, he found a woman pinned under a four-wheeler that had crashed into a tree.

After helping to get the vehicle off Crystal Willis, Foster called for help, Trafton said, adding that he did not have information about the woman’s age, residence or current medical condition. When investigators from the sheriff’s office and the Maine Warden Service arrived at the scene, they found that Willis was in a lot of pain and believed she might have suffered a broken vertebrae in her back.

She was taken to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast for treatment.

Police also found Wooden, who was reportedly sitting at Foster’s screened-in picnic table with a drink in his hand, Trafton said.

“He told officers he’d been drinking prior to the accident,” Trafton said. “He was not described in the report as staggering drunk.”

Initial reports to the 911 dispatchers about the incident said that there was just one person — Willis — involved in the crash, Trafton said, adding that it was unclear from the police report whether Wooden helped to get her out from under the ATV.

Police arrested him at the scene and charged him with operating under the influence with serious personal injury and aggravated driving to endanger.

Wooden was taken to be booked at Waldo County Jail in Belfast, where he was released on $500 bail the following day.