WISCASSET, Maine — After a car accident on Route 1 in Newcastle left his family’s car resting against a tree at the bottom of an embankment, a 10-year-old Wiscasset boy helped his younger siblings and full-term pregnant mother, who was trapped, get out of the car and find help.
Gary James Tibbetts, along with his sister Emily Tibbetts, 9, and brother Joseph “Joe Joe” Tibbetts, 6, were in the back seat of the 2001 Buick LeSabre at the time of the accident in front of Mike’s Place the afternoon of Tuesday, July 5.
The children’s mother, Andrea Tibbetts, was driving, having just picked the kids up from their grandmother’s house in North Newcastle.
One the day of the accident, Tibbetts was overdue with her fourth child. She had just gone to the doctor’s office that morning for an appointment.
“They weren’t going to induce until the following week,” Tibbetts said. “This kind of sped it up a little bit.”
As Tibbetts turned onto Route 1 from Sheepscot Road, she accelerated as vehicles were coming up behind her. She told Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective Scott Hayden she was looking in the rearview mirror and did not see a vehicle stop in front of her to make a left turn into Mike’s Place.
“I looked up and all of a sudden there were red lights in front of me,” Tibbetts said.
Tibbetts said she braked and swerved to avoid the vehicle. However, the vehicles were too close and her car struck the rear passenger side of a Toyota RAV4 driven by Robert L’Heureux of Hartford.
The Tibbetts’ car left the southbound side of the road, went down an embankment and came to a stop against a tree. Everyone inside the vehicle was wearing their seat belts.
Tibbetts could not open her door and exit the vehicle. Emily climbed out her window, while Gary James got Joe Joe unbuckled and out of the car. Gary James then ran up the hill to flag down help to get his mom out of the vehicle.
“We trained him so that if there’s an emergency, always get your siblings out first and make lots of noise so people are alert,” Tibbetts said. “He ran up the hill yelling, ‘My mom’s pregnant and she needs help!’”
Tibbetts said she didn’t know the people who helped her get out of the car and up the hill, but she was thankful they came to help.
Tibbetts was transported by the Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service to LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta to be checked out. Mercy Johnson, Tibbetts’ mother and the children’s grandmother, brought the kids to the hospital. With the exception of bruising from seat belts and a lost tooth for Emily, everyone was OK, Johnson said.
Contractions started kicking in while Tibbetts was at the hospital, and she was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Tibbetts said during the entire day, the baby never showed any signs of distress.
“Her heartbeat never rose; she was perfect,” Tibbetts said.
At 4:03 a.m. Wednesday, July 6, Madeline Peaslee was born weighing 6 pounds and 13 ounces. Tibbetts said all the doctors at Maine Medical and LincolnHealth were wonderful.
A week later, everyone in the family, including Madeline, is doing great, Tibbetts said. Tibbetts recently stopped into Mike’s Place so the employees could meet Madeline.
“They called her the crash baby,” Tibbetts said. “It’s going to be a great story to tell her when she’s older.”
Tibbetts said she is proud of how her 10-year-old son took care of his siblings and got her help.
“Gary James puts the weight of the world on his shoulders, and always worries about everyone else first,” Tibbetts said. “He did exactly what we always hoped he would do in that situation.”