AUGUSTA — An Augusta man remained behind bars Thursday after forcing a car he was riding in with two toddlers off the road and into a ditch off Eastern Avenue, police said.

The man, William Lee Austin, 24, was arrested after the crash and charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. Austin was being held at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $2,060 cash bail.

The driver, Carolyn McKechnie, 25, of Windsor, and her two children, ages 2 and 3, were taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, said Augusta police Lt. Christopher Massey.

The crash occurred around 4 p.m. Wednesday about a half-mile from the Togus Road intersection as McKechnie was driving her 2001 Buick Century east on Eastern Avenue.

McKechnie and Austin, who was in the passenger’s seat, got into an argument, Massey said. McKechnie’s children were riding in back.

“According to her statement, and according to witnesses, (Austin) reached over and pulled the steering wheel,” Massey said.

The car veered sharply to the right, went down an embankment and rolled onto its side, Massey said. Emergency dispatch reports said McKechnie was screaming and distraught after the crash, and there were fears about the well-being of the children. However, rescue crews arrived and learned the children were not seriously injured.

Austin denies that he pulled the steering wheel, Massey said.

Traffic in the area was slowed for a couple of hours while police investigated and the car was removed.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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