WEST PARIS — When Jerrold and Tracie Mason went to bed Friday night, they thought their daughter, Rebecca, 16, was asleep in her room downstairs.
So it was difficult to understand what the police were saying when they knocked on the Masons’ door later that night to deliver the news that Rebecca had been killed in a car crash a few miles away, Jerrold Mason said. It wasn’t until they saw her footprints in the snow that they realized she had crept out of the house and gotten into a car waiting for her at the end of the driveway.
“She hadn’t been in the car for more than 10 minutes” before it crashed, Jerrold Mason said.
The Masons were surrounded by family and friends at their hillside home Sunday as they tried to make sense of Rebecca’s death in a crash that left another teenager dead and two other people injured. Maine State Police have determined that the car in which Mason was riding was headed back to a party where underage drinking was taking place.
The driver, Kristina Lowe, 18, of West Paris, had been drinking and was text messaging as the Subaru sedan headed east on Route 219 a little after midnight, state police said. They said the car hit some ice, left the road, vaulted into the air and crashed into trees, killing Mason and Logan Dam, 19, of Norway.
Lowe was in serious condition Sunday night at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Passenger Jacob Skaff, 22, of South Paris suffered a head injury. He left the accident scene on foot and was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway a few hours later by family members, police said. He was released from the hospital later Saturday.
Police said it wasn’t clear whether the four were wearing seat belts.
A candlelight vigil was held Saturday night in West Paris, and by Sunday, a shrine nestled in the hemlocks knocked over by the crash contained bouquets of red roses, wooden crosses and other mementos.
Logan Dam was the son of Deborah Sande and Douglas Dam of Norway. Sande said Logan, her only child, had been living with her nephew and some of his friends in West Paris during the past few months while working as a cook at the Sunday River ski area.
She said he left Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris last year as a senior to work and help her pay bills.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better son,” she said.
The accident was the topic of conversation in the small western Maine town of 1,700 where Rebecca Mason was known for her bubbly personality and striking looks.
“She was beautiful. She could have been a model,” said Doug Bennett of Bryant Pond, a customer at the West Paris General Store.
At the Mason home Sunday, the sheets were turned back on Rebecca Mason’s bed. A stack of school papers spilled from a bookbag on her couch. The shelves were lined with rows of fingernail polish bottles.
Cotton-candy-pink walls were covered with posters of Marilyn Monroe and photographs of Rebecca and her friends playing sports. She was a sophomore at the Oxford Hills high school, where she played field hockey, track and other sports.
Rebecca was interested in studying forestry, said her brother, Lyndon, 22. “She was a girly girl who also loved sports and the outdoors,” he said.
Her father said that earlier Friday night, Rebecca had gone to visit her grandparents across the street, and returned to talk about how beautiful the night and the moon looked. Then they all went to bed.
“We heard her turn on her fan,” Jerrold Mason said.
He said he had heard that Rebecca’s friends were making a run to the Big Apple down the street for beer and cigarettes, and that’s when Rebecca probably met them. Then they headed back to the party.
Jerrold Mason said he did not know the other crash victims. But he said they were much older than his daughter, and he has a lot of questions about them.
Police are still investigating the circumstances of the crash and the party.
“State police will take appropriate action about the underage party sometime likely in the coming week,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.
McCausland declined to provide details Sunday about how police know that Lowe was texting when the crash took place, or that she had been drinking.
He said the final investigative report on the crash will be reviewed by the Oxford County District Attorney’s Office, which will make any decisions about charges.
“The driver is still hospitalized and will be for some time. We will obviously continue to monitor her condition as the investigation plays out,” McCausland said.
The Masons spent Sunday making funeral arrangements and waiting for out-of-state family members to arrive.
Jerrold Mason said his wife was too distraught to talk, and he wasn’t sure why he was able to do it. He said he feels like he has been thrown into a pool with other parents who have lost their kids.
“It is going to be rough going ahead. You just hope you don’t live to be 100 and have to remember this every day,” he said.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: