Tractor-trailer driver cited after accident snarls traffic

The driver of a tractor-trailer that was carrying a load of frozen french fries was cited by Maine State Police on Sunday for distracted driving after he lost control of his truck and rolled into the median, causing a massive traffic jam on the Maine Turnpike that lasted for five hours.

Trooper Dan Worcester said the driver, Andrew Griffin, 44, of New Brunswick, told investigators he was reaching for a bottle of water when he noticed that he had started to drift across the southbound lanes of traffic. He “overcorrected” for his mistake, causing the tractor-trailer to tip over and land on its side.

Griffin was trapped inside the vehicle at one point but was removed without injury, said Erin Courtney, the turnpike spokeswoman. The truck was hauling Burger King french fries, she said.

Traffic backed up for about five miles on the turnpike near mile marker 25. The accident, which was reported at 1:30 p.m., happened just north of the Kennebunk rest area and exit.


Traffic was able to move through the crash area but it was stop-and-go for most of the way as police closed off the southbound travel lane closest to the crash. That forced motorists into the breakdown lane.

Worcester said it took several hours to unload the french fries and remove the tractor-trailer from the crash site. The scene was cleared by about 6:30 p.m.

Worcester said Griffin works for Midland Transport Ltd., a Canadian trucking company based in Dieppe, New Brunswick.


Boy Scouts, adult leaders rescued from mountainside

Three Boy Scouts and two of their adult leaders became stranded on the side of Black Cap Mountain in Eddington and were rescued by a group of game wardens, firefighters and professional climbers, authorities said Sunday.


The Maine Warden Service said four climbers lowered the three boys and two adults down the mountain early Sunday after they became stranded Saturday night when they ventured off a trail.

The two Scout leaders went to find the boys after they didn’t return from a hike, but they also became stranded and called 911 around 7:30 p.m.

After the Scouts were found by the game wardens, the professional climbers lowered them to firefighters waiting at the bottom of the mountain.

The Scouts did not require treatment for anything except being cold.


Wildlife biologists checking on hibernating black bears


Maine wildlife biologists are checking on hibernating black bears this month against the backdrop of an anticipated November ballot initiative aimed at banning bear hunting using bait, dogs and traps.

State wildlife managers have been tracking Maine’s black bear population since 1975.

Bear biologist Randy Cross of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that the bear management program is a success. He also said hunters wouldn’t be able to take enough bears to ensure a healthy population without using the techniques that would be banned.

But Darryl DeJoy, who runs the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, said baiting is actually helping the population growth by supplementing bears’ natural diet.

Governor returns home without meeting Obama

Gov. Paul LePage was to return home Sunday from the National Governors Association gathering before meetings with the president and vice president.

LePage’s office said he would return Sunday from Washington, D.C., after governors tackled topics including employment trends and prescription drug abuse.

He was to leave before a meeting Sunday evening at the White House with President Obama and his wife, Michelle. More meetings were scheduled Monday with the president and vice president.

– From staff and news services

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