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A Franklin man was killed Tuesday in a crash on Route 1A that resulted in the highway being closed for more than four hours, according to Ellsworth police.
Warren Higgins, 67, died at the scene on a section of road known as MacGowan’s Hill, between Nicolin and Winkumpaugh roads, Sgt. Shawn Willey of the Ellsworth Police Department said Tuesday evening.
Higgins was driving a 2016 Dodge Ram pickup truck north toward Bangor at around 12:15 p.m. when the crash occurred, Willey said. The pickup collided partially head-on with a Penske rental box truck that was headed south toward Ellsworth, he said.
The front left, driver’s sides of each vehicle slammed into each other as the box truck, driven by Michael Moore, 57, of Brewer was headed up the hill where two southbound lanes allow vehicles heading to Ellsworth to pass each other, Willey said. It was not clear Tuesday night which vehicle may have drifted across the centerline of the road before impact, he said.
Moore and a passenger, Carl Condon, 53, of Troy, were taken by ambulance to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with bumps and bruises, Willey said. Higgins was declared dead at the scene. All three men were wearing seatbelts.
Both vehicles were demolished in the collision. The front and back axles on the box truck, which came to rest blocking the road, were damaged, preventing it from being towed from the scene. The rear axle had to be fully removed before the box truck was loaded onto a flatbed truck so the wrecked vehicle would be low enough to pass under wires that cross overhead on Route 1A, Willey said.
The road, which is the primary road that connects Bangor with Ellsworth and most of coastal Hancock and Washington counties, was closed or restricted to alternating directions of traffic for four and a half hours, resulting in traffic that stopped or slowed to a crawl for miles in both directions. Traffic toward Bangor was diverted west to Route 1 via Christian Ridge Road, while traffic toward Ellsworth was diverted toward Bucksport via Route 46 in East Holden.
Sgt. Chad Wilmot of Ellsworth Police Department is reconstructing the crash, while the Maine State Police commercial vehicle enforcement division is examining the rental box truck for possible defects, Willey said. Police also are considering whether weather conditions, which at the time consisted of heavy rain, or the condition of the road, which is being resurfaced, may have been factors in the collision, he added.
Willey said the crash remains under investigation and it is possible charges could be filed.