SWANVILLE, Maine — A man died late Tuesday night when he went out of control on Swan Lake Avenue and slammed into the side of Swan Lake Grocery Store, which then caught fire.
Andrew McHugh, 23, of South Bethlehem, New York, was driving north about 11:50 p.m. when his truck veered off the road and hit the store.
He died at the scene, according to emergency crews. The person who called to report the crash told 911 operators that the truck was on fire and that they could not remove the driver from it.
Speed was a primary factor in the crash, according to Jason Trundy of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office.
When McHugh’s truck hit the building, it caught fire, too. Swan Lake Grocery Store co-owner Deb Newcomb said that the six tenants who live in apartments above the store were all able to get out OK, but the fire caused extensive damage.
“I don’t know what’s next, to be honest with you,” Newcomb said. “We’ll open as soon as we can.”
The store, which was insured, employs around 20 people.
Inside the store, damage from the truck crash, the fire and the water used to put the fire out appeared to be severe. Outside, employees and people from Swanville gathered around the charred building, expressing shock and dismay at what had happened overnight.
“I just can’t even,” Ruth Gale of Swanville said. “It’s just totally unexpected.”
She said she comes to the store every day, and that it supports local schools and serves as something of a de facto community center
“It’s definitely going to be tough, not having it for however long it’s out of commission,” she said.
Other customers said that because of the ongoing pandemic, the loss of a local grocery store feels especially tough.
“They mean a lot to me,” Jerry Moody of Searsport said. “I can’t stand to go to Hannaford because of the crowds and crowds of people. Here, they’re very laid back. Everybody wears a mask. This is really going to hurt the community.”