October 11, 2013

Spectacular Maine crash results in only minor injuries

An SUV goes airborne and three vehicles are destroyed in the chain-reaction crash on Thursday.

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — A Maine game warden suffered minor injuries in a four-vehicle crash and rollover that destroyed three of the vehicles Thursday morning and closed state Route 150 for about 2½ hours.

click image to enlarge

A Jeep Cherokee lies upside down where it landed after plowing into a vehicle on the side of Route 150 in Skowhegan on Thursday. Police said the father and son who were riding in it were not injured in the crash, which involved four vehicles, including two Maine Warden Service trucks. A state game warden, one of two at the scene, suffered minor injuries, police say.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

This Maine Warden Service truck was rear-ended by a vehicle traveling south on Route 150 in Skowhegan on Thursday.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

The game warden was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but there were no other injuries, Skowhegan Police Chief Ted Blais said.

A southbound Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicle driven by Sean Cipriano of Athens crashed into the rear of the warden’s parked pickup truck, leading to a chain reaction that damaged another warden’s truck and a car. Cipriano’s SUV was sent airborne and flipped onto its roof.

Neither Cipriano nor his 13-year-old son, who was a passenger, was injured, Blais said.

“The two game wardens are standing near the guardrail when (Cipriano) drifted over a little bit into the white line area – everybody’s southbound – plows into the back of the game warden truck, flips through the air – it did like a twist, a pirouette – and lands, and him and his 13-year-old son are OK,” Blais said. “The game warden truck smashes into the white car, which hits the back of the other game warden truck.”

The force of the impact drove the first game warden truck, which was in park, forward about 30 feet.

Blais said a white 1995 Honda Civic owned by Charlie and Son Auto Sales of Skowhegan apparently had run out of gas and pulled to the side of the road just south of Molunkus Road.

Game Warden Chad Robinson, who was southbound on Route 150 about 10 a.m., saw the car, noticed it did not have a license plate and pulled his GMC Sierra pickup truck in behind the car to investigate. There was no one in the car.

At the same time, Game Warden Tom McKenney also was southbound on Route 150 in his GMC pickup truck and pulled in front of the car to assist.

Cipriano’s Jeep, the first game warden truck and the Honda Civic were destroyed.

While the accident was happening, Blais said, the driver of an empty, northbound flatbed tractor-trailer saw what was happening and slammed on his brakes, laying about 100 feet of heavy tire-skid marks on the road and the shoulder.

“Just think of the timing,” Blais said. “Imagine if he was just a little farther down the road.”

Blais said the two game wardens were standing between the Civic and the GMC pickup when they heard the tractor-trailer skidding toward the accident.

McKenney jumped over the guardrail, but Robinson was struck, knocked to the ground and suffered minor injuries. He was treated and released from Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan.

“It’s unbelievable they didn’t get pinched between the two or even the guardrail – it could have cut their legs right off,” Blais said.

A State Police trooper and a county deputy were called to reconstruct the accident, which remains under investigation.

Blais said it does not appear drugs or alcohol contributed to the crash. Driver inattention on the part of Cipriano is a possible cause, he said.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

dharlow@centralmaine.com

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