WASHINGTON, Maine — The stretch of Route 17 where a flatbed carrying lumber overturned Friday, killing two other motorists, has been the scene of other crashes and the town’s fire department is urging caution.
Friday’s afternoon crash remains under investigation by the Knox County and Waldo County sheriff’s offices and the Maine State Police.
Last September, an 18-wheel flatbed truck loaded with snowplows crashed at that same curve on Route 17 by the intersection of the Fitch Road in Washington. The driver suffered injuries that were not life-threatening but was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and then flown by a LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
Police at the time said the flatbed truck was heading west and simply missed the curve, crossed the center line and drove off into a field on the opposite side where it flipped, dumping its load of plow equipment from the Fisher Engineering manufacturing plant in Rockland.
No other vehicle was involved in that crash.
In April 2015, a car lost control on that curve and went off the road but not before clipping another vehicle and causing it to flip and land on its roof in the middle of the road. One person was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The driver who caused the crash was cited for driving to endanger for speeding on the curve.
Then shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday, less than 24 hours after Friday’s fatal crash, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office responded to a car crash near the same spot. At least one person was injured but information on that crash was not immediately available Sunday morning.
The Washington Fire Department, which has responded to these crashes, issued a statement Saturday afternoon on its Facebook page. The department pointed out that it had been out at the scene of Friday’s crash earlier Saturday morning, assisting with traffic control as Central Maine Power repaired a pole and lines. The Saturday crash occurred less than a half hour after that work was completed.
“Stay safe,” the department urged.
While the site has been the scene of multiple accidents, it is not listed as a high-accident site by the Maine Department of Transportation in the map it issued in 2014. The report pointed out that while the high crash location map is a “useful tool on a statewide level as they show most of the hot spots, they do not include every place where there are opportunities for safety improvements.”
Friday’s crashed claimed the life of Paul Fowles, 74, of Owls Head. The identity of the second victim has yet to be released, pending formal confirmation by the Maine medical examiner’s office.