SKOWHEGAN — A heavy metal plate covering sewer construction work in downtown Skowhegan contributed to a traffic accident involving a school transport van early Tuesday, sending four children to the hospital, according to police.

The injuries were not serious and there was minor damage to the vehicles involved.

Skowhegan police Sgt. Joel Cummings, who is scheduled to be sworn Nov. 14 as deputy police chief, said the accident happened just after 8 a.m. at the intersection of Water Street and North Avenue in front of the Municipal Building, where work on the town’s stormwater separation project has been ongoing on North Avenue since July.

The construction project is expected to be suspended for the winter and resume in the spring.

Cummings said a blue 2010 Dodge Caravan registered to School Administrative District 54 was coming into town on Water Street from the area of Coburn Park on its way to school when the van driver stopped at the “big metal plate covering the work that they’re doing.”

“The metal plate was curled up slightly and the van driver had stopped and allowed a left-turning vehicle on Water Street to turn in front of her to go up North Avenue,” Cummings said. “She wanted some time to negotiate that plate that she had to run over.”

He said the school van was rear-ended by a car driven by a 17-year-old girl. There was minimal damage to each vehicle.

In the van, another 17-year-old girl complained of neck pain and was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital. Three other children in the van, boys ages 6, 10 and 10, were taken to the hospital as a precaution and because authorities could not reach their parents. Protocol dictates that if a parent is not at the scene of an accident or can’t be contacted, the child is taken to the hospital until family members can be reached, Cummings said.

“The boys were not transported because of any complaint of pain or injury,” he said. “They were transported because they were unattended juveniles, so they were taken to the hospital, where their parents would be informed.”

The names of all of the children, including the 17-year-old driver of the car that rear-ended the van, are being withheld because of their ages. The van driver, identified as Valerie Kelley, 61, was not injured.

Cummings said the driver of the other vehicle, a red, 2006 Ford Focus, was responsible for the accident because of driver inattention and following too close, but police don’t plan to charge her.

Assisting Skowhegan police at the scene were the Skowhegan Fire Department, EMS Ambulance and Anson/Madison Ambulance Service.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

filed under: