Emergency workers at a car crash on Interstate 95 Thursday had to contend with exploding bullets as fire ignited 40 rounds of ammunition in one car.
Three people were hurt when a Honda slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer as it was slowing in the northbound lanes near mile 106 in Farmingdale just before 1 p.m.
Trooper Lee Vanadestine was only a couple of miles away when the crash was reported and he got to the scene quickly. The truck driver and the two people in the Honda were already out and sitting – injured – on the side of the road, the car in flames.
“The car was fully engulfed and it had exploded already,” Vanadestine said. “While I’m there trying to give first aid and help them I hear this popping.” The driver of the Honda told him he had two loaded handguns, a .40-caliber and a .380, and ammunition in the car.
“All that ammo started to explode and go all over that place. I could see it. The car was absolutely destroyed,” Vanadestine said.
Vanadestine ran to his cruiser and positioned it in front of the people who had been in the car.
“I couldn’t move them. I thought we were going to get hit with rounds,” he said. “For five to 10 minutes those rounds were popping off in that car.” None of the rounds hit the cruiser.
Firefighters had to stay back until the rounds stopped going off.
Nobody was injured by the ammunition.
The crash brought traffic to a standstill at a busy time on the highway.
The northbound and southbound lanes were shut down at one point, causing traffic in both directions to back up for several miles, according to the Maine Turnpike Authority.
The crash happened when the truck slowed to about 25 mph and the driver of the Honda, Travis Veilleux, 20, of Winslow, failed to slow down, Vanadestine said.
“He admitted he wasn’t paying attention and he was following too close,” Vanadestine said. There are no charges associated with the guns or ammunition. The guns were owned legally and Veilleux has a concealed-weapons permit.
Injured in the crash were Veilleux and his passenger Stephanie Pleau, 20, of Vassalboro. Both were expected to be released from the hospital, as was the truck driver, whose name was not immediately available.
The crash spawned follow-up crashes involving four other vehicles, though nobody was injured in those.