March 18, 2012

Bill Nemitz: Samaritan's voice touches victim – twice

Online reader comments don't always make for the best reading. Between the mangled facts and the tit-for-tat insults, it's often hard to get from the top of a comment string to the bottom before the eyes glaze over and it all dissolves into so much babble.

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Ashley Caston meets Jim Scanlon at Dunkin’ Donuts in Kennebunk on Friday. She came across an accident in Arundel two weeks ago and stayed with Scanlon, the driver, until help arrived.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Ashley Caston and Jim Scanlon held a reunion at Dunkin’ Donuts in Kennebunk on Friday afternoon. “I’m so glad you wrote that thing on the website,” he told her.

But then every once in a while, up pops something like this:

"i came up on a vehicle flipped over into a snow bank and a fence ... i could see through the windshield an older man who had been thrown from the drivers seat to the passengers seat and was wedged against the passenger window ... i assured him he would be ok and not to move, that the ambulance was on its way and i wasnt going to leave him until they got there ... i cant seem to get this mans face and voice out of my head, id never experienced something like this and can only pray they got him out ok."

Or, just beneath it, this:

"I was the man in that SUV. I wish I could say that I remembered you but I can't remember what happened from the time of the crash till I arrived at the hospital ... I am well on my way to recovering and I want to thank you so very much for being there for me."

Scroll back to two weeks ago today:

Jim Scanlon, 58, was en route around 7 a.m. from his home in Cape Porpoise to his job as a ground transportation dispatcher at the Portland International Jetport. Suddenly, his 2001 Kia Sportage hit a patch of ice on a sharp curve along Log Cabin Road in Arundel.

Jim remembers losing control of the vehicle -- but that's about it. By the time the SUV came to rest on its passenger side against a snowbank and a fence, he'd been knocked out cold.

Enter Ashley Caston, 24, of Arundel.

She'd just dropped off her two boys -- Ayden, 7, and Ryan, 5 -- at day care and was headed in the opposite direction down Log Cabin Road for her job as a cook at the Maine Stay Inn & Cottages in Kennebunkport. Rounding the corner, she saw the Kia on its side.

"I was like, 'Oh my God!"' recalled Ashley, who didn't know whether she was looking at an accident that had just happened or one that was all over but for the tow truck.

Ashley, it should be noted before we go any further, is one busy young woman.

For starters, she's a single mom who, after dropping out of school in her teens, went back last year and earned her graduation equivalency diploma. And in addition to that job at the Maine Stay, she's currently enrolled in the culinary arts degree program at York County Community College.

Or, as she put it when asked to describe a typical day, "Both the kids to day care ... go to school ... leave school ... go to work ... leave work ... pick up the kids ... it's basically non-stop."

Yet on this icy morning, Ashley did stop.

Getting out of her car, still shocked at the sight of the overturned SUV, she saw a woman standing at the top of a nearby driveway.

"Did this just happen?" Ashley asked. "What's going on?"

The woman replied that there was someone in the vehicle and she had called 911.

"I think he's unconscious," the woman said, adding that Ashley shouldn't park her car there because someone else might hit it.

"But I'm not worried about someone hitting my car," Ashley recalled. "I'm worried about whether he's OK."

(Continued on page 2)

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