De’Von Heard said the cold was almost unbearable as he struggled to get out of the silver sport utility vehicle as the icy water of the Crooked River poured in.

The SUV had just struck a guardrail on Route 302 near the Naples-Casco line Monday afternoon after what police are calling a road rage incident involving the SUV and its three occupants and a red pickup truck. The SUV went airborne, landed on the riverbank several yards below on its passenger side and then slid through the river ice and came to rest upright.

As frigid river water poured into the car, Heard kicked open the front passenger door and helped his fiancee get out of the back seat, past the airbags and out of the vehicle. The driver, Manny Ticas, clambered out through the driver’s side window, and the three swam a short distance to shore.

“I’ve never been that cold in my life. I’ve been freezing cold – had to sleep in a car overnight. That didn’t compare,” Heard said in a telephone interview Thursday. Even worse, he said, was walking, soaking wet, through thigh-high snow to get from the riverbank to the road above.

“I felt like twice the weight I am,” he said. At the top of the hill, he fell as he tried to step over the guardrail, his legs numb and unresponsive. “My legs were ice,” he said.

Heard, Ticas and Kayla Carpenter escaped with minor injuries and hypothermia after the crash. Heard, who was in the front passenger seat, said he couldn’t describe the crash itself because his eyes were closed all the way down.

Detectives with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office say the two parties – those in the SUV and the driver of the pickup, have given starkly different versions of what happened, both saying the other was at fault. Police would not identify any of the people involved. Heard’s Facebook page says he is from North Conway, New Hampshire, and Carpenter’s says she is from Bridgton.

Capt. Don Goulet said the crash was the result of an intentional act and is being investigated as a criminal matter. He would not comment on Heard’s account of what happened.

The occupants of the SUV had called police several minutes earlier as the confrontation unfolded.

The pickup’s driver could not be reached and has not made any public statements about the incident. He was not injured, but stopped after the crash and spoke with deputies at the scene.

According to Heard, the incident began as the two vehicles went in the same direction on Route 302 on a section with a main travel lane and a right turn lane. He says the red pickup was in the right lane but did not turn, the driver instead pulling in front of the SUV as the turn lane ended. The driver then put on his brakes, and the SUV struck the back of the pickup, Heard said.

The pickup’s driver pulled over and the SUV pulled up alongside. Heard said he rolled down his window to talk to the truck driver.

“He was yelling ‘Pull the (expletive) over right now. I’m calling the cops,” Heard said. Heard said they didn’t feel safe pulling over there and that the other driver had deliberately slowed in front of them. They continued driving.

“I said, ‘I’m calling the cops. From there it became road rage,” Heard said. He said Ticas’s SUV is a 2014 model, almost new, and that his friend wouldn’t drive it recklessly.

The confrontation continued on Route 302 until the crash.

The three people in the SUV contacted WCSH-TV on Tuesday after the station aired a security video from a homeowner on Route 302 that showed the two vehicles going alongside each other in an area with a single westbound lane. The person who provided the video told the station the SUV’s driver was passing in a no-passing zone.

But Heard said the pickup was in the breakdown lane and its driver had pulled alongside them before turning into their car.

“We had no choice but to go over the double line,” Heard said. “He was chasing us up and down Route 302 for a few miles. I was on the phone with 911 dispatch for six or seven minutes.

“He made us spin out three or four times. We finally came back towards Naples. That’s when the guardrail came up,” he said. “He pushed us over to the other side of the road.”

After Heard freed himself from the wreckage and climbed to the road, he said, the driver of the pickup was standing there and saying they were in trouble.

While the occupants of the two vehicles have given police opposing accounts, there were witnesses to the crash. Investigators also hope to gather evidence from the remains of the vehicles, and from each vehicle’s event data recorder, a device that captures the speed and other characteristics of a car just before a crash.