Camper rolls over after driver swerves on I-295

A southbound pickup hauling a camper crashed just before noon Wednesday after the driver swerved to avoid a post separating the southbound lanes of Interstate 295.

State police said Stephen Sutmire, 64, of Pennsylvania was trying to avoid one of the breakaway posts north of Tukey’s Bridge, which are in place as part of the center-lane closure related to construction farther south.

Nobody was hurt but the large camper was badly damaged as it rolled over and onto the median guard rail, said Trooper Lawrence Rose. The passing lane was closed for two hours, causing traffic delays.

Truck driver loses brakes but keeps his head in crash

When the brakes on his box truck failed Wednesday morning, a Farmingdale man driving south on Interstate 295 intentionally steered into the median guardrail to avoid colliding with the cars ahead of him.

Trevor Dupont, 31, scraped along the median guardrail near Franklin Arterial and in the process sideswiped three cars headed south in the passing lane, said Trooper Lawrence Rose of the Maine State Police. There were no injuries.

The 7:50 a.m. crash shut down all but one lane of the interstate for about an hour and a half, delaying many morning commuters.

Dupont was driving the Chevrolet truck for an electrical supply company. The truck’s inspection had expired within the past month, Rose said.

Although the expired inspection drew just a warning, a timely inspection might have caught and corrected the corroded and worn brake lines, Rose said.

“Obviously, the brakes should have been worked on before they got to that point, but he did good by putting it into the guardrail,” Rose said.

Developer puts off meeting with civic center trustees

A developer who has proposed building a new sports and entertainment arena in Portland or Westbrook canceled a planned meeting Wednesday with the Cumberland County Civic Center board of trustees.

Jason Snyder, who has suggested building an 8,000-seat arena, had asked to talk to the trustees about his proposal and a recommendation to turn the civic center into a convention center. Snyder is one of the developers of a proposed $300 million retail and commercial project in Westbrook to be called Stroudwater Place.

Neal Pratt, chairman of the trustees, said Snyder told him that his presentation wasn’t ready and did not suggest an alternative meeting date.

Pratt said he told Snyder that the trustees would have to continue with their work on developing a possible renovation plan for the civic center, which is the home of the Portland Pirates hockey team and hosts concerts and other events.

The civic center has a task force working on a renovation plan, which will likely include new premium seating areas, possibly luxury boxes and a number of other improvements. The civic center is nearly 35 years old and is rapidly nearing obsolescence if upgrades aren’t made, Pratt has said.

The task force is waiting for a report from consultants on renovation plans and could make its recommendation to the full trustee board within a few weeks.

“We are not prepared to delay (that timetable) based, apparently, on speculation,” Pratt said.

Woman with rare condition organizes awareness march

A North Yarmouth woman who has a little-known brain condition called Chiari is organizing a walk in Portland on Saturday to raise awareness and money for research.

Erin Ruiz was born with Chiari, a malformation in which the bottom of the brain descends out of the skull onto the spinal cord. Her symptoms began with migraines and became disabling before the condition was finally diagnosed.

She has had multiple surgeries, and faces more, but is still in pain, she said. There is no cure.

“There are so many people that are misdiagnosed and they don’t even know” they have Chiari, she said. “If there could just be a little more education, that’s my biggest goal.”

The walk is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday on the front lawn of Payson Park, beside the Seaside Nursing Home on Baxter Boulevard. For more information, contact Ruiz at 829-6361.

The event is part of the Conquer Chiari Walk Across America, which will take place in 20 states on Saturday. For more information about Chiari, go to www.conquerchiari.org.

Hazardous-material drill expected to disrupt traffic

The Portland Fire Department plans to conduct a Weapons of Mass Destruction drill today to test the city’s ability to respond to a hazardous-material emergency. The exercise will disrupt traffic on Read Street and Baxter Boulevard.

The drill does not actually simulate an attack but will involve responding to a truck leaking pesticide after a crash.

Crews will respond as if drums filled with pesticide were ruptured and leaking their contents into the city’s storm drains on Read Street, threatening Back Cove. There will also be reports of people in nearby buildings injured and missing, according to a press release about the event.

Read Street was the site last winter of an ammonia leak at the Americold facility that led to the evacuation of nearby neighborhoods.

“This exercise provides us with an excellent opportunity to work with our regional partners and test the city’s ability to address a crisis involving critical infrastructure,” Fire Chief Frederick LaMontagne said in a written statement.

Read Street from Bell Street to Canco Road will be reduced to one lane with alternating traffic from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Westbound Baxter Boulevard will be detoured through Payson Park to Ocean Avenue and Vannah Avenue, the statement said.

Research Institute grant to help ground fish industry

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland has received $1.4 million to help the groundfish industry adapt to the new sector management system.

The money, awarded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, will be used to support sector operations such as manager salaries, office and equipment rental and dockside monitoring expenses.

The groundfish industry began operating under a new sector system in May with catch limits reduced by up to 75 percent from last year for some species. The system is designed to rebuild overfished groundfish stocks.

The grant was announced by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.


Democrat drops out of race, supports independent rival

Cindy Bullens, a Cumberland Democrat, has withdrawn from the Senate District 11 race and lent her support to independent candidate Dick Woodbury of Yarmouth.

Woodbury will face off against Green Independent Party candidate Christopher Miller of Gray and Republican Gerald Davis of Falmouth in November.

The district also includes the towns of Chebeague Island, Long Island and North Yarmouth.


Family of three killed in collision on Route 1A

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department says a two-car collision has claimed a Coast Guard family based Down East.

Deputies say 34-year-old Carlos Tapia was killed, along with his wife, 23-year-old Rachelle Tapia, and Rachelle Tapia’s 4-year-old daughter, Mackenzie Gray. The Coast Guard says Tapia was a petty officer third class who served as a machinery technician at the Coast Guard station in Jonesport.

Investigators say it appears that Carlos Tapia’s car failed to negotiate a curve and crossed into the path of an oncoming vehicle on Route 1A in Dedham.

Deputies say the driver of the other vehicle suffered a broken ankle and leg injuries in the collision at 4 p.m. Tuesday.


Maine man facing charges of kidnapping, sex assault

A federal grand jury in Erie has indicted a Maine man on charges that he accosted a couple at gunpoint in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest, tied up the man and raped the woman.

Mike Beaulieu, 35, of Anson was arrested last month in New Brunswick, where he remains in prison on a charge of having a gun despite being a sex offender in Maine, where he once spent four years in prison.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Beaulieu in the Aug. 3 attack at the Kinzua Point Information Center, but Tuesday’s indictment means those charges will likely be dropped.

Beaulieu faces up to life in prison if he’s convicted of aggravated sexual abuse, kidnapping, and weapons charges in the grand jury indictment.


Woman pleads guilty to kidnapping, terrorizing

A 28-year-old woman is going to jail for 16 months after pleading guilty to kidnapping and terrorizing an 18-year-old woman last December in Rockland.

The Bangor Daily News says Jessica E. Gagnon of Thomaston pleaded guilty last week to charges of kidnapping, violation of conditions of release, tampering with a witness, assault and terrorizing.

Two other women are awaiting trial on charges stemming from the same incident.

Police say the victim was invited to an apartment for drinks on Dec. 5. She was then attacked and driven to another location, where she was held against her will.


Woman’s gas-smell report leads to discovery of body

Officials are trying to learn what caused the death of a 55-year-old man found in his apartment after a neighbor complained of smelling gas.

The Bangor Daily News says a woman called the gas company to complain about the smell in her Hampden apartment at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

A technician and building maintenance man found the body in the bathroom of the second-floor unit.

The man’s name is being withheld until relatives can be notified. Police say the death does not appear to be suspicious, but the investigation is continuing.

The building was evacuated for about 15 minutes, but a gas company technician said there was no leak.


Bottle found in the Azores after a 30-month journey

Three Maine students who launched a message in a bottle in 2008 hoped it would make it all the way to Europe.
It didn’t make it to the mainland, but it made it as far as the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bangor Daily News says seventh-grader Dustin Colson and sixth-graders Liam Griffith and Hannah Flood had all but forgotten about the bottle until it was discovered this summer. Flood’s dad and her uncle agreed to drop bottles into the water off the Bahamas in March 2008 while setting weather buoys.

Cheryl McFadden at the Adams School in Castine says the idea was to see if the Gulf Stream would take the bottles to Europe. The bottle traveled about 3,000 miles.


Aroostook State Park gets 25 percent bigger

The Maine Conservation Department says Aroostook State Park is growing by 25 percent thanks to a purchase with state and federal funds and a private donation.

Maine’s first state park will add 14 acres.

The state bought the land with money from the Land for Maine’s Future and federal Recreational Trails programs. In addition, the parcel’s Massachusetts owner, Nancy Askin, gave a discount on the land price.

The land purchase is expected to provide the park with hiking on scenic trails, protection of an existing trail used for cross-country skiing that extends into the park, and more land for hunting.