SOUTH PORTLAND —  A police officer suffered a concussion Monday when a driver who was talking on a cell phone rear-ended his parked cruiser on the Casco Bay Bridge, according to police.

Portland-bound lanes on the bridge were closed for nearly four hours after the crash at 10:45 a.m., as investigators worked at the scene. The closure snarled traffic at the foot of the bridge and around South Portland’s Waterfront Market, Mill Creek and Broadway.

Officer Rocco Navarro, 28, was sitting in his parked cruiser, with its blue emergency lights on, behind a disabled car in the northbound passing lane of the bridge when his cruiser was hit from behind by a 2010 Chevrolet pickup truck. Navarro had been contacting a tow truck.

The pickup, driven by David Zografos, 40, of South Portland, drove the cruiser into the median, crumpling the roof and crushing the trunk, said Police Chief Ed Googins.

“This could have just as easily been a fatal crash, and it was driver inattention that was the primary cause, based on our investigation and witnesses’ statements thus far,” Googins said.

Zografos did not return a call seeking comment.

Neither Zografos nor the driver of the disabled 2003 Kia, Zaki Hasson, 22, of Portland, was injured, Googins said.

Zografos was charged with failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle.

Navarro, who has been on the police force for four years, was treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland and released. Googins said he will be out of work for a time.

Mike Ross, a delivery van driver for Smaha’s Legion Square Market, got stuck on the bridge after the collision. He was among the drivers who had to back off the bridge, one by one, with help from police. He then got stuck in the mass of cars detouring past the Sprague Energy tank farm and over the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

“It was like a train,” Ross said of the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Michelle Dunton said the traffic congestion had an effect at Fresh Look Cleaners on Broadway. She said it was slower than usual in the shop, and the mail and UPS deliveries were behind schedule.

“Everybody’s having to go through the bottleneck,” Dunton said. “People are angry – the beeping of the horns.”

Because of the traffic delays, school bus drivers were allowed to take detours and pick up students from multiple schools, said Dan Lamarre, the school district’s transportation director. He said bus drivers were able to avoid major delays. “Typically, we go the shortest route. Today, we may not necessarily be going the shortest way,” he said.

At Nonesuch Books in the Mill Creek Shopping Center, traffic congestion delivered something unexpected: new customers. Robin Elliott said five customers told her that they had never come in before – and four of them signed up for the frequent buyers club.

“They needed something to do,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]