Ten elementary school students and the driver of their bus escaped serious injuries in a head-on collision with a car Wednesday morning in New Gloucester.

The driver of the car, Robert Doughty Jr., 59, of East Main Street in Yarmouth, was flown to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston by LifeFlight helicopter with what police said were life-threatening injuries. Doughty was in critical condition Wednesday night, the hospital said.

The accident occurred at 8:50 a.m. near the intersection of Route 231 and Penney Road. Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office investigators said the northbound car crested a hill and went off the right side of the road. The driver over-corrected, sending the 2015 Acura into the path of the bus carrying third- and fourth-graders.

Investigators will try to determine what caused Doughty to leave his lane, including whether he was distracted by a cellphone, had a sudden medical condition or had drugs or alcohol in his system, said Capt. Don Goulet.

Laura Hodgman’s 8-year-old daughter was on the bus. Hodgman said she walked to the accident scene from her home a short distance away after she heard about the crash.

“I knew my daughter was on that bus,” she said. “I was so upset I had to come down.”


She was frantic when she saw that the front end of the bus was crumpled and the car was destroyed, with debris strewn across the road and rescue workers tending to someone in an ambulance. She was relieved when she learned that her daughter was unharmed.

None of the children on the SAD 15 school bus headed to the Burchard A. Dunn Elementary School was injured. The bus driver, Kathleen Allen, 56, of Gray, had minor injuries and was taken to a Lewiston hospital for observation, Goulet said.

Bruce Beasley, superintendent of SAD 15, said the children followed their training and evacuated the bus through the emergency exit at the back. Emergency crews checked the children for injuries and determined they were all OK, Beasley said. The children were transferred to another bus and brought to school. The school district notified parents of the crash and allowed them to check their children out of school if they wanted.

Firefighters and rescue workers had to cut off the car’s roof to get Doughty out. They treated him at the scene before loading him into the helicopter.

Route 231 near Penney Road was closed for three hours as deputies investigated the accident. School officials said the bus was equipped with a video camera, and the footage will be reviewed by investigators.

Beasley said one of the children was extremely upset, primarily concerned about the well-being of her bus driver, who has been driving for the district for about five years.

Hodgman also was concerned about Allen.

“She’s been really good to my kids this year,” she said. “They all like her.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.