FIREFIGHTERS from Lisbon, Bowdoinham and Bowdoin fire departments work to cut free a deputy trapped in a cruiser after crashing into a tree on Route 125 in Bowdoin Saturday morning.

FIREFIGHTERS from Lisbon, Bowdoinham and Bowdoin fire departments work to cut free a deputy trapped in a cruiser after crashing into a tree on Route 125 in Bowdoin Saturday morning.

BOWDOIN

A Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s deputy escaped serious injury after crashing his police cruiser into a tree along Route 125 in Bowdoin Saturday morning.

Deputy Al Huntington was able to report his own crash to Sagadahoc County Communications Center at 6:49 a.m.

According to Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, Huntington was driving the 2013 Dodge Charger west on Route 125. He was approximately a quarter mile before the Lisbon town line when he veered off the left side of the road and struck a tree nearly head-on. The vehicle came to rest upright in front of 533 Main St.

Huntington, 55, of Lisbon, couldn’t get out of the car due to the extensive damage. He was cut free by firefighters and was able to walk away from the wreckage with minor injuries. Huntington was transported to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he was treated and released.

Merry said it appears Huntington, who was just finishing an overnight shift, fell asleep and lost control of the vehicle on his way home. Maine State Police are investigating the crash.

“We are very fortunate that the deputy was not seriously injured,” Merry stated in a press release about the incident. “The advanced safety mechanisms in today’s cruisers are remarkably dependable, including seatbelts and airbags. Clearly, the injuries could have been a lot worse. The deputy will be out of work for a few days, but he is expected to return in good condition.”

Merry said Huntington was able to call the dispatch center himself to report the crash and never lost contact with dispatchers.

“He’s lucky in a sense,” Merry said at the scene.

Of course, a few inches one way or the other and it could have been a different story, Merry said, “but in this particular case, St. Michael, that guardian angel, maybe was nearby.”

Huntington has been with Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s Office for 10 years and has no prior vehicle mishaps, according to Merry.

The cruiser is totaled, which the department will deal with, Merry said. He added that while he can make a phone call and get a new vehicle, there’s no way he can replace a deputy.

Huntington had been on duty since 9 p.m. Friday. It was an unusually cold night, but cranking the heat in a car may cause drowsiness, Merry said.

That being said, the command staff will talk about the necessity of having deputies working overnight, Merry said.

Different law enforcement agencies set up shifts differently. State police, for example, no longer work all night. Some county and rural agencies get off shift at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and if something happens in the next four or five hours, they call someone out.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s Office modified its staffing plan several years ago, Merry said, which is based on call volumes at different times of day. There are now more deputies on until 3 a.m., and after that, only one or two. There was one other deputy working with Huntington during this overnight shift.

“It is something that we will look at,” Merry said. “Right now we do have situations in which our deputies are called for service.”


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