SKOWHEGAN — Eighty-four-year-old Charles Atwood had a flashlight with him when he crossed Route 201 on Tuesday morning after getting his Morning Sentinel newspaper, but the driver of a commercial box truck didn’t see him until it was too late, police said Thursday.

It was still dark – just before 6 a.m. – and the road, also known as Waterville Road, was busy with people going to and from work, Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam said Thursday.

Atwood, who lived alone in a modest single-family house on the east side of the road, was struck by the truck and taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He died Wednesday at the hospital after a family member authorized suspension of life support, the chief said.

The other person hospitalized, Aaron Norton, 36, of Madison, was released Wednesday from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Bucknam said. Norton was the driver of a sedan that also was hit by the box truck.

Michael Kelley, 67, of Clinton, the box truck driver, was treated and released from the hospital with minor injuries, Bucknam said.

Kelley was driving north on Route 201 when the accident occurred, Bucknam said.

“The truck swerved but was unable to avoid the pedestrian, striking him on the passenger side of the vehicle,” Bucknam said. “The driver of the big truck never saw him. He thinks he may have been walking at an angle because he didn’t even see the flashlight until it turned to him. At that point it was too late.”

Charles Atwood was born in Lexington, according to his obituary, graduated from Central High School in New Portland and was a school bus driver for that town before serving in the Army. After his discharge, he returned to New Portland, where he drove a school bus and worked as a janitor. He married Clara Salisbury of Canaan in 1960 and joined the Maine State Police. He retired in 1981 and became a self-employed lumberman, the obituary said. Atwood’s wife died in October 2005, according to her obituary.

Bucknam said traffic on the Waterville Road “picks up” about 5 a.m. when the shifts change at the Sappi North America paper mill.

“I know, having worked overnights, that at 5 a.m. in the morning, the bridge here is just packed coming in off of Madison Avenue across the bridge to head up the Waterville Road,” he said.

When the truck swerved, it struck the Chevrolet Aveo sedan driven by Norton that was traveling south on Waterville Road, Bucknam said. The crash occurred about a mile north of the Sappi mill.

Bucknam said criminal charges are not being considered. The investigation into the accident is ongoing, he said.

Bucknam said the box truck was registered to Kelley, the driver. He contracts with the U.S. Postal Service and was carrying mail.

Bucknam said Atwood’s daughter, Karen, has come to Skowhegan from North Carolina since she learned of the accident.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

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