Two men were killed and two others were injured when a pickup truck crashed into a dump truck on Route 9 in Durham Wednesday morning, police said.

Malakai Cawood, 21, of Limington, and Brendon Harthorn, 24, of Cornish, died Wednesday when the pickup they were riding in exited Rabbit Road onto Route 9 and hit the dump truck at about 7:15 a.m.

A third person in the 2003 Chevrolet pickup, Jeremy Reardon, 35, of Buxton, was injured and taken by Life Flight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Reardon’s condition was unavailable at the request of his family, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday night.

The driver of the dump truck, Clifton Larrabee, 42, of Durham, was taken to Maine Medical Center and remained in fair condition Wednesday night.

The pickup truck struck the center of the dump truck owned by Larrabee Construction of Durham near the vehicle’s gas tank and rear tires, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said. The impact of the crash caused the dump truck to turn on its side and the pickup truck caught fire.

Three men who came upon the scene pulled the men from the burning pickup, McCausland said.

Travis Plowman, the co-owner of Plowman Construction of Gorham, employed the three men in the pickup and owned the truck. He said Reardon suffered broken bones and was to undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon.

Police have not determined who was driving the pickup.

“We don’t know who was driving the pickup truck,” McCausland said, “because we haven’t had the chance to talk to the witnesses.”

Plowman, however, believes it was Harthorn.

He had been having car trouble that made it difficult for him to get to work and Plowman had allowed Harthorn to use the pickup to get to job sites. Harthorn likely picked up the other two at their homes and was headed to a job site in Wiscasset when the crash occurred, Plowman said.

The three were going to be working as flaggers at a road construction site, he said.

Plowman said Harthorn had worked for him for about a month, Cawood for two to three weeks and Reardon started last week.

“I feel so guilty right now, like I sent three men to their death,” he said. He said other employees had been involved in crashes while on the job, but no one had been seriously hurt.

He said the company supplies flaggers and also does road work, sewer work and construction. Reardon had worked on a home construction job last week, Plowman said, but was shifted to flagging Wednesday because of the need in Wiscasset.

CAUSE REMAINS UNKNOWN

There is a stop sign at the end of Rabbit Road where it intersects with Route 9. McCausland said state police investigators are still not sure what happened and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Jeff Wakeman, who serves as chairman of Durham’s Board of Selectmen, said the town repaved Rabbit Road “within the last month.” Wakeman said the other road at that intersection with Route 9 – Runaround Pond Road – was repaved within the last week.

The posted speed limit on Route 9 is 50 mph, the Maine Department of Transportation said.

Ted Talbot, a spokesman for the MDOT, said a section of Route 9 near the accident scene remained closed for several hours following the crash. The road reopened to traffic around 2:30 p.m.

Talbot said a state road crew will return to the crash scene in a few days to patch the burn marks that were left on the roadway. He said CleanHarbors, a hazardous materials firm, will be brought in Thursday to clean up fuel and oil spilled on the road.

William Gagne, Chief Deputy for the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday’s fatal crash is the second fatal to have recently occurred on Route 9 in Durham and represents the third serious crash on that road within the past month.

“We’ve had multiple accidents at that intersection (Route 9 and Rabbit Road), but I don’t think it’s related to the road being paved,” Gagne said. “Historically speaking, we’ve seen a fair share of accidents at that intersection.”

On Saturday evening, Aug. 27, a motorcycle operated by 77-year-old Kenneth Kilby of Auburn left Route 9 where it is called Newell Brook Road and crashed.

Kilby was not wearing a helmet. He was transported to Central Maine Medical Center where he died the next day, Gagne said.

Gagne said 26-year-old Hailey Bouchard of Brunswick lost control of her car near the intersection of Rabbit Road and Route 9 on the evening of Aug. 27. Her vehicle left the road, rolled over and ejected Bouchard. She had to be flown by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center. Bouchard is recovering, Gagne said.

The two crashes happened within 15 minutes of each other.

McCausland credited the good Samaritans with saving Reardon’s life. McCausland did not know their names, but the Lewiston Sun Journal identified James Merrill as one of the people who rushed to the scene and tried to save the men in the pickup truck.

Merrill, who lives in Durham, could not be reached for comment, but his boss, Joel Dunham of Dunham’s Tree Service in Lewiston, called Merrill a “hero.”

Dunham tried to convince Merrill to take the day off, but Merrill, who started working for Dunham on Monday, declined.

“Jimmy Merrill is the new guy on my crew this week. First thing this morning he heard the accident and ran out and rescued two men from the fiery car. One of them passed away in front of him as he was trying to do CPR. Jimmy Merrill is a brave, brave man,” Dunham wrote on his Facebook page.