Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Ann S. Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
ALFRED – The misdemeanor driving-to-endanger charge against a volunteer firefighter from Shapleigh will be dismissed after a year if she isn't accused of any criminal conduct in the meantime.
Natasha Kinney, 31, of Lebanon was relieved that her lawyer and the prosecutor reached the agreement Tuesday. She said it has been a frustrating time since she was issued the citation for an accident in which she lost control of a fire truck.
"I didn't do anything wrong," she said. "It just happened. I wasn't speeding. It wasn't malicious."
On Aug. 8, 2010, Kinney, then a captain with five years in the fire department, was returning from a dryer fire on Ross Corner Road. She was going to refuel the 2005 tanker-pumper when she rounded a bend on Newfield Road and lost control. The fire truck – loaded with 1,800 gallons of water – rolled and came to rest upside down. Kinney avoided four motorcyclists, who credited their own safety training and Kinney for saving their lives.
Kinney said she believes the combination of hitting the soft shoulder, blowing a tire and the shifting weight of the water led to the accident.
Rescue workers used heavy equipment to free Kinney from the destroyed fire truck. She was taken by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Kinney said she was bedridden for a month and suffered injuries including one that required 27 stitches on her left arm.
Maine State Police Trooper Dan Worcester, the investigator, issued the citation on Oct. 27, 2010.
Kinney's lawyer, James Loring, said he was very happy about the outcome of the case. Assistant District Attorney Kent Avery declined to comment.
Shapleigh Fire Chief Duane Romano was also glad that the case got resolved. He described the crash as a "freak accident."
"It's very hard for people who don't drive trucks all the time to get into a piece of apparatus like that. It's hard, especially if you don't drive them every day," he said.
After the accident, the town adopted a policy requiring any fire truck driver to have a commercial driver's license. Romano said about a dozen of the department's 22 members now have commercial licenses.
Insurance covered the cost of the $250,000 truck. The replacement is the 2011 version of the truck that was destroyed.
Kinney isn't among the volunteer firefighters who are driving the new truck. She said she sometimes finds herself reliving the accident.
"It probably won't ever go away," she said.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: