FORT KENT, Maine — The Madawaska town manager rescued a nursing student who became trapped in her car after it went off the road and over an embankment on the Frenchville Road.
Jordan O’Leary, 19, a University of Maine at Fort Kent student, was traveling home from her job as a certified nurse’s aide at St. Joseph’s Memory Care in Frenchville shortly after 9 p.m. Friday when she lost control of her vehicle. O’Leary’s Chevrolet Malibu went over an embankment and crashed into trees.
O’Leary, who was traveling alone, found herself badly injured and trapped inside the car.
“I was scared nobody was going to see me down there. I tried to grab my phone but it was destroyed in the crash,” she said.
The Malibu’s airbags deployed and both of O’Leary’s hands went through the windshield.
“The dash, actually everything, came in and the dash pinned my right leg,” she said.
Just a few minutes after the crash, Madawaska Town Manager Gary Picard and his wife, Jessica, were returning to their Frenchville home after dining out in Fort Kent, when they spotted O’Leary’s car smashed against the trees.
Picard immediately pulled his vehicle off the road, shining his headlights in the direction of the crash. Not sure what he would find, Picard headed down the embankment to see if anyone was in the smashed car, where he found a shaken O’Leary.
“She was in a panic and I couldn’t open the doors; the locks weren’t working,” Picard said.
Meanwhile, Jessica Picard — unable to communicate with the 911 dispatcher due to poor cellphone service — ran to the nearby home of Dale and Linda Soucy, where she used a landline to report the crash.
O’Leary said that she felt relieved when Gary Picard approached her car.
“I kept telling him I just wanted to get out. I could smell smoke and didn’t know if it was from the airbag or what. I could smell gas. He just kept telling me very calmly, ‘I’m gonna get you out. I’m gonna get you out,’” O’Leary said.
Picard searched for a tool to break open the passenger window of O’Leary’s car, but finding none, grabbed one of his son’s skis. He instructed O’Leary to look away so that she would not be further injured by glass when he attempted to break the window.
The ski wasn’t up to the task, but a pickup truck came along just about then and Picard asked the driver if he had any tools. As chance would have it, the pickup truck driver had found a small welding hammer in the road earlier in the day, and Picard used it to break the car’s passenger window, freeing O’Leary.
“I couldn’t walk,” O’Leary said. “He literally like grabbed me out of the car through the window that he broke. He picked me up and carried me up the bank across the road and put me in the back of his SUV and gave me a blanket.”
Jessica Picard returned to the Soucy home to call O’Leary’s parents. O’Leary is the daughter of Fort Kent Community High School girls varsity basketball coach Kelly O’Leary and SAD 27 nurse JoAnne O’Leary.
“My mom and my sister and my dad went in the ambulance with me,” Jordan O’Leary said.
While O’Leary waited for an ambulance to arrive, a female physician happened across the crash scene and offered her assistance. Neither Picard nor O’Leary got the doctor’s name, but both said they appreciated her assistance.
“She just checked everything over and she was really good,” O’Leary said.
Ambulance Service Inc. transported O’Leary to Northern Maine Medical Center, where she was admitted for two days for treatment of a broken hand, several broken fingers and multiple cuts and abrasions.
“It’s still hard to get around and walk and stuff, but everyday it gets a little bit better,” O’Leary said. “I’m just sore all over my body from airbags — my face and chest and stuff.”
O’Leary said that once she recovers, she wants to thank the Picards in person. Gary Picard said he and his wife are just happy O’Leary is OK.
“We’re very glad she wasn’t gravely injured. It was a bad accident, and it could have been much much worse,” he said. “We were just glad to be able to help out.”
Police did not immediately return calls about this crash.