Texting charge follows crash that damaged two cruisers

Two York police cruisers were damaged just after midnight Friday when they were hit by a motorist who police say was driving under the influence and texting.

York police said that at 12:10 a.m. Saturday, Officer Luke Ernenwein had stopped a vehicle for following too closely on Route 1 near Abbott Brothers Tree Service and was checking the female motorist’s sobriety outside her vehicle.

Officer Tyler Gagne then arrived at the scene to help and pulled behind Ernenwein’s cruiser. Both cruisers’ emergency lights were flashing.

Ernenwein then noticed a southbound 2003 Honda Accord drifting toward them, yelled a warning and pulled the female driver back.

The Accord crashed into the left rear side of Gagne’s cruiser and then into Ernenwein’s cruiser.

The driver of the Accord, Nicholas P. Bergeron, 24, of Windham, N.H., was treated at York Hospital, released, and arrested on charges of operating under the influence, texting while driving and improper passing of emergency vehicles.

Unable to post bail, Bergeron was being held at York County Jail in Alfred on Saturday.

Neither the officers nor the female driver, who was not charged with a violation, were hurt.

The police vehicles were inoperable and towed from the scene. Bergeron’s vehicle was heavily damaged.


Corrections chief defends state’s inmate-escape record

Maine’s Department of Corrections commissioner says despite the escapes of two inmates last weekend, the state is relatively successful at keeping inmates inside its minimum-security prisons.

Last Sunday, two inmates walked out of the minimum-security Charleston prison and made it 22 miles away to a beach near Glenburn before they were caught near a boat landing. Commissioner Joseph Ponte said authorities had information that a grandmother of one of the men had a camp in that area.

Ponte said that over the last decade, Charleston has had only four escapes involving six prisoners, not counting last week’s.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Ponte said he thinks Maine has a very good record when it comes to inmate escapes.


Man dead after SUV leaves Route 201, flips into building

Police say a man died after the sport utility vehicle he was driving veered off U.S. Route 201, struck a rock ledge and flipped into a building.

Police said the man was the only person in the vehicle. He died at the scene Friday afternoon.

The Kennebec Journal reported that police believe the man experienced a medical problem while driving. He was not named, pending notification of family.


Truck passing tractor-trailer broadsides car; woman dies

Police say a 46-year-old Minot woman has died in a car crash on Route 4 in Turner.

Police said Susan Fortier was turning left onto Route 4 in her Buick sedan Friday afternoon when she was hit broadside by a truck.

Police told the Bangor Daily News that the truck driver was passing a tractor-trailer as it slowed to turn.

They say the tractor-trailer turning prevented Fortier and the truck driver from seeing each other.

The truck driver was treated at the scene for a leg injury. Fortier died at the scene.

Maine State Police reconstructed the crash.


Weekend features pair of lobster boat races

Lobstermen are competing for bragging rights and prizes this weekend at two lobster boat races along Maine’s coast.

Fishermen revved their engines in Searsport on Saturday, and will be back racing in Stonington today.

In all, a total of 12 races are held in different harbors along the coast.

The races are action-packed contests where the fastest of the souped-up boats can reach speeds of more than 60 mph as spectators watch from shore and boats that crowd the courses.

The final competition of the season takes place during the Eastport Pirate Festival on Sept. 9.


Missing tot’s mother holds walk to raise awareness

Even though police say a missing toddler probably won’t be found alive, the youngster’s mother is working to keep attention on the case until there’s a resolution.

Trista Reynolds organized a walk at 4 p.m. Saturday from Monument Square to Deering Oaks in Portland to raise awareness about Ayla Reynolds, who was last seen at her father’s home in Waterville in December.

The event was dubbed Ayla’s Walk with Trista – A Benefit Walk for Ayla.

“I want to share with everybody the walk that Ayla and I used to do pretty much every day,” Trista Reynolds told the Morning Sentinel.

Ayla was 20 months old when she was reported missing by her father, Justin DiPietro, on Dec. 17.

DiPietro said Ayla disappeared from her bed overnight, saying she was last seen wearing polka-dot pajamas with the words “Daddy’s Princess” on them. She had a cast on her broken left arm.

Police have ruled out the possibility that Ayla was abducted and have said they don’t expect to find her alive. But Reynolds still wants answers, and she wants to bring her daughter home.

No one has been charged. A State Police spokesman said there are no new developments in the investigation but that detectives are continuing to work on the case.


Loon plate will get you into state’s parks today

Maine loon license plates are a free pass to state parks this weekend.

The purchase of the plates supports conservation and wildlife preservation efforts in Maine. Free admission to all 48 of Maine’s state parks and historic sites is the state’s way of saying thanks to Maine drivers who have bought loon plates.

Since the program’s inception by the Legislature in 1993, more than $17 million in loon plate proceeds has gone to the Maine Department of Conservation and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


Republicans eye contenders in Senate District 21 race

Republicans will choose between a party-mainstream legislator and a teacher who represents the more conservative wing of the party as their nominee in a closely watched state Senate race.

Local party committee members in Kennebec County will choose between Patrick Flood of Winthrop, a four-term House member, and Ryan Wheaton of Pittston, who’s backed by Ron Paul supporters, when they meet Monday evening at the Augusta Civic Center to nominate their candidate in the Senate District 21 race.

The candidate who is chosen will face Democratic candidate David Bustin of Hallowell, a former state legislator who also served as state personnel chief.

Senate District 21 includes Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

The seat’s current occupant, Republican Sen. Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, has decided not to run.

– From staff and news services