BANGOR OFFICER: ‘JUST MAYHEM’

“I’ve never seen anything like this. It was just mayhem,” said Bangor Detective Larry Morrill, a 20-year police veteran. “I was involved about a half-mile back. Brake lights were going on, there was a tractor-trailer that jackknifed and was riding a guardrail. There were vehicles starting to twist and turn everywhere.

“I was trying to come to a stop, and a pickup came from my right side, came across and clipped my front end and that drove me on my left side into a utility trailer that was in front of me.”

Morrill joined state police troopers who arrived to help handle the scene.

“It was bad,” he said. “I don’t even know how to describe it. Everybody was trying to check cars and tend to the injured and (decide) who was trapped that we needed to get out first.”

‘EVERYTHING WAS JUST CRASHING AND CRASHING’

Lori Welch, a health care provider who was riding in a car with her husband, described the crash as “like playing bumper cars.”

She said her husband kept looking in the rearview mirror as everyone was coming together. “He’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God.’ And you could see tractor-trailers and there was just metal flying and vehicles that were up on end.

“It was just like a domino effect,” Welch said. “Everything was just crashing and crashing and crashing.”

Her husband was able to steer into an opening – a gap between colliding cars – and saved them from a serious crash.

“Once we came to a stop, then there was somebody that came by and said, ‘Is there anybody who has any medical knowledge?’ ” Welch said. “I helped a girl who was severely injured, (to) get her out of a vehicle that was a truck that was, like, folded in two.”

‘LIKE A SCENE FROM A TV SHOW’

Nick Bouchard of Bouchard & Sons Towing was called to the scene, and said just before noon that he had been towing vehicles for four hours and he expected to be there another four hours.

“We started off this morning thinking we were just getting a tractor-trailer off the road, and then it turned into nothing but chaos,” he said. “Probably this morning in the heavy wrecker, we pulled six to seven trucks before we even got to that scene. There were trucks everywhere and cars everywhere.”

Bouchard said ice on the road was a challenge for the tow companies and likely contributed to the massive pileup. He said the area did not seem to have been salted.

By the time Bouchard arrived, the injured had already been taken to local hospitals. Other people were standing outside their immobile cars, trying to figure out what to do.

“It’s like a scene from a TV show,” he said. “We’ve never responded to a scene like this before. My father, Wayne, he’s never seen a scene like this in 25 years.”

Tow companies were removing the vehicles gradually, taking the vehicles at the edges of the crash site first, and working their way down the line.

‘THERE WERE CARS EVERYWHERE’

Dean Cray, transportation director for Regional School Unit 19, got a call about the accident around 7:45 a.m. and drove toward the scene, parking at the Dixmont on-ramp of Interstate 95. He had to walk about 2 miles to get to the RSU 19 school bus that was involved in the crash.

Cray saw more than 20 vehicles around the bus and was stunned at what he saw as he approached. Most of the people were out of their cars, but one person was being extricated from a vehicle and placed on a stretcher.

“There were cars everywhere,” Cray said. “There would be bunches of them – two or three of them here and there. When I got to where the bus was, there were tractor-trailers and cars everywhere. Within probably 100 feet from the front of the bus there were probably 21 cars packed in between the guardrails.”

— Writers David Hench and Amy Calder contributed to this report.