WASHINGTON (UPDATED March 22) — Following the release of the name of the first confirmed fatality in the accident on Route 17 in Washington late Friday afternoon, the state Medical Examiner’s Office has released the name of the second person killed as 45-year-old Christina Torres-York of Warren. Five vehicles were involved in the horrific crash on March 18, when a Freightliner tractor-trailer carrying a load of lumber slid into the opposite lane and rolled at a bend near Fitch Road.
Paul Fowles was driving one of three other vehicles traveling east on Route 17 when the crash occurred. His 2009 pickup truck was the first to be struck by tractor-trailer and the load of lumber, which impacted his truck in the left side and pushed it a distance off the road and down an embankment, according to Knox County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Tim Carroll. Fowles was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash occurred just before 5 p.m. March 18, when deputies responded to multiple calls about the crash that occurredon Route 17, between the narrow bridge over Davis Stream and Fitch Road.
Upon arrival, Carroll said deputies found five vehicles had been involved in the crash and one was still burning. He said the initial investigation has determined that a 1998 Freightliner with a flatbed trailer, loaded with lumber, was traveling west on Augusta Road (Route 17) in Washington at the time of the accident. The other four vehicles involved were all traveling east on Augusta Road.
The Freightliner was being operated by Randall Weddle, 53, of Greeneville, Tenn., when the trailer portion of the truck began to slide into the opposing lane while rounding a right-hand corner just west of the Fitch Road intersection. The Freightliner began to roll over on to the left side as it continued to go around the corner. As it rolled, three of the four vehicles heading in the opposite direction were unable to avoid being hit by the trailer.
The first vehicle hit, a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado, was driven by Fowles, 74, of Owls Head, and his pickup truck went off the roadway to the right after being struck on the left side and came to rest in a distance off the road down an embankment. The next vehicle in line, a 2014 Nissan, driven by Tracy Cook, 51, of Union was also struck by the trailer and went off the roadway to the right. Cook's vehicle rolled over once and struck the following vehicle, a 2015 Kia being driven by Tracy Morgan, 33, of Washington, before coming to rest on its wheels in the field off the road.
Morgan was able to avoid being struck by the trailer after she took evasive action to avoid the truck, Carroll said. Morgan's Kia was struck by the Nissan as it rolled over and the Kia also came to final rest in the field.
Torres-York was driving a 1998 Chrysler van and was struck by the trailer and the load of lumber being hauled by the truck. The Chrysler was pushed back into the field, where it immediately burst into flames. The Freightliner rolled onto its roof and continued to slide on its roof down the road before going off the left hand side of the roadway. The Freightliner came to rest down another embankment between the road and the field.
Morgan was uninjured in the crash. Cook was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, as well as a passenger in the Freightliner, Lowell Babb, 32, of Virginia. The operator of the Freightliner, Weddle, was taken by LifeFlight to Central Maine Medical Center. All were non-life threatening injuries.
It took crews over an hour to extricate Weddle out of the cab of the truck, said Carroll.
Fowles was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Torres-York. Carroll initially said that a confirmation of the van driver’s identity would be made by the Maine Medical Examiner's Office, due to the extent of burns received when the van burst into flames.
Crews remained on-scene until 2:30 a.m. cleaning up debris and getting the vehicles to a secure location. Fairpoint and Central Maine Power were due to come back later in the morning to repair the lines and the pole that was destroyed in the crash. Carroll confirmed that power was initially shut off to an extensive area around the crash site until crews arrived on scene and could localize the power failure.
"The Knox County Sheriff's Office, Waldo County Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police Reconstruction, Mapping, and Commercial Truck Enforcement units are expected to continue to investigate the crash in the days to come to try to figure out what exactly happened," said Carroll in the news release.
Fire departments and emergency medical crews responded quickly from Washington, Jefferson, Somerville and Union to extinguish the fire and provide care to the victims. Also on scene was Sterling Ambulance.
Two LifeFlight of Maine helicopters were also called to the scene, and Route 17 was closed to traffic late into the night while emergency crews worked.
WASHINGTON - A horrific accident on Route 17 in Washington late Friday afternoon, has closed the major thoroughfare to traffic, as police and ambulance crews continue working at the scene. Knox County Chief Deputy Tim Carroll said there are two confirmed fatalities.
The accident occurred near Fitch Road and involves five vehicles, including a lumber truck.
“Route 17 will be closed down for at least another four or five hours as we work on removing injured victims from their cars and reconstructing the accident,” said Carroll.
Firefighters and emergency responders from Somerville, Jefferson, Waldoboro and Union were called to assist Washington, along with Sterling Ambulance, Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Knox County Sheriff’s Department.
Two LifeFlight of Maine helicopters are currently on the scene, and Carroll said a total of six people are involved as victims.
Central Maine Power is also on scene and has turned off the power to the local area.
PenBayPilot.com will provide more information when it is available.
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