UPDATE: Route 17 crash near Agway possibly caused by driver fatigue

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 5:30pm

Story Location:
2179 Heald Hwy
Union  Maine
United States

UNION — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office does not know exactly why Merton Sawyer, 55, of Rockland, crossed the center line along Route 17, in Union on April 17.

Sawyer had been operating a white Toyota truck just after 8 p.m. when the head-on crash occurred near Agway. His vehicle crashed into a black Chevy car operated by Jesse Spencer, 31, of Rockland.

However, based upon findings of the investigation, Knox Country Deputy Elwell believes that Sawyer may have fallen asleep due to fatigue.

According to a Sheriff’s Office news release, no impairment by Sawyer was detected.

Sawyer is expected to be summoned by Deputy Elwell for the traffic violation of failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle.


Reporter’s note: Findings from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office investigation contradict the initial theory by deputies that the Chevy Equinox crossed the center line. However, through the investigation, deputies came to believe that the Toyota crossed the line. The Penobscot Bay Pilot confirmed this contradiction, April 25. The Toyota crossed the line.


UNION — Two Rockland men were hospitalized following a head-on motor vehicle crash along Route 17 in Union, Wednesday night.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident that resulted in one of the two people being flown to a trauma center, and the other to be transported by ambulance to a local hospital due to injuries.

At approximately 8 p.m., April 17, a 55-year-old male, from Rockland, was traveling eastbound on Heald Hwy (Rt 17) in a 2001 Toyota Tundra and a 31-year-old male, also from Rockland, was traveling westbound in a 2013 Chevy Equinox.

The Equinox crossed the center line and struck the Tundra head-on, at a bend in the road near Union Agway, according to Deputy Chief Patrick Polky, of the KCSO.

Neither vehicle had passengers. Both vehicles were towed.

Deputy Matthew Elwell is investigating the crash.

Knox S.O. was assisted by Knox Regional Communications, Union Fire and EMS, Waldoboro EMS, North East Ambulance, and LifeFlight of Maine.

Hope Fire Department set up a landing zone at Union Elementary School to help guide the LifeFlight helicopter, and tow trucks removed the vehicles from the scene.

All Union personnel cleared the scene at approximately 9:45 p.m. 


Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com


UNION — Route 17 at the Agway in Union is temporarily closed this evening, Wednesday, April 17, due to a car accident.

Just after 8 p.m., two vehicles were involved in a crash.

Union Fire and EMS, Waldoboro EMS, and North East Ambulance are all on scene, as well as deputies from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

More details will be added as they become available.