BIDDEFORD — The 17-year-old girl struck by a car on Route 111 in Biddeford on Saturday is alive, but has suffered extensive injuries as a result of the crash.

The teen, identified as Sarah Nguyen of Arundel, was struck by 67-year-old Grete Zemans of Portland on Saturday afternoon, as she attempted crossing Alfred Street (Route 111) after leaving work.

Nguyen’s mother, Karen Tinkham, said her daughter had been walking across Route 111 to the Five Points Shopping Center where her grandmother was waiting to pick her up from work. Tinkham said Nguyen was an employee of the D’Angelo sandwich shop across the street from the plaza.

Nguyen was taken by ambulance to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford, but was transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland due to the extent of her injuries. Dep. Police Chief JoAnne Fisk said Monday she believed Nguyen suffered head injuries as a result of the crash.

Tinkham said her daughter underwent nine hours of brain surgery and extensive facial reconstruction surgery to the left side of her face.

“The doctors don’t even know how she’s still alive,” Tinkham said. “She doesn’t remember what happened.”

Tinkham said Nguyen was speaking to doctors and had managed to take a couple steps with assistance, despite the extent of her injuries. Her mother said Nguyen will have to undergo further plastic surgery.

“She’s a very strong, good fighter. We don’t know how she’s doing it, but she’s doing it,” Tinkham said.

A spokesman for MMC, however, said Thursday that he didn’t have any information on a patient bearing Nguyen’s name.

Tinkham said Thursday that employees of D’Angelo who were outside at the time of the crash told her that Zemans appeared to be texting or using a mobile phone when she hit Nguyen, who was at the curb of the road.

Fisk said Thursday the crash was still under investigation and that charges against Zemans have yet to be filed. Tinkham said Thursday she is considering pressing charges, “If it comes to that.”
Tinkham said people need to remember to put down their phones while driving, and must focus their energy on safety.
“People need to learn: We don’t take our eyes off where we’re driving,” Tinkham said. “It’s a straightaway, it’s 3:08 p.m. — it wasn’t the sun, the condition is that you were being distracted while you were driving.”

The incident was one of several pedestrian crashes in the local area in recent months.

On Oct. 4, a 14-year-old Biddeford Middle School student was treated at and released from MMC after being struck by a car outside the John. F. Kennedy Kindergarten Center while riding his bicycle to school.

On Tuesday, Nicole Maltese, 23, of Shapleigh, was taken by ambulance to MMC after being struck in a crosswalk outside City Hall in Sanford. Maltese suffered head and leg injuries when she was hit by Thomas Nelson Jr. of Acton.

No criminal charges have been filed in that incident.

Zemans’ 2003 Toyota Camry was impounded at Biddeford Public Works following the crash, but was released on Sunday, police said.

Tinkham said D’Angelo’s employees told her Zemans did not exit her vehicle following the crash, and said she was most shocked Zemans did not get out to check on her daughter.

“If I could see the driver,” Tinkham said, “I would say, ‘Why didn’t you at least get out to see how my daughter was? Why didn’t she brake until she hit my daughter? What was more important than making sure somebody’s child is alive?’”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected] 

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