Fifteen people were injured Thursday morning when two vans collided on Route 1 in Bridgewater.

One van was carrying inmates from the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton and the other carried members of the Full Gospel Assembly, a church in Mars Hill, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

McCausland said the crash took place on Bunker Hill during whiteout conditions and high winds.

“The injured were taken to the hospitals in Presque Isle and Houlton, some with serious injuries, but none life threatening,” McCausland said in a statement. McCausland was unable to be more specific about how many inmates and church members were injured.

Two vans collided on Route 1 in Bridgewater in Aroostook County on Thursday morning, injuring 15 people. Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

The Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office van was transporting nine inmates being taken to courts in Presque Isle and Caribou, according to investigators from the Maine State Police.

The church van was carrying a few adults and several teenagers.

Most of those injured suffered broken bones, cuts, bumps and bruises, or complained of pain. Some had to be extricated from the vans, which were demolished.

Six ambulances responded to the crash, which occurred around 7:30 a.m.

One of the ambulances was involved in a separate crash sliding on icy roads near the van crash site. The Houlton ambulance was not carrying patients when it sideswiped a car and went off the highway. An EMT on the ambulance suffered minor injuries.

McCausland said about a dozen other motor vehicle crashes were reported Thursday morning in Aroostook County – all caused by extreme weather conditions. There were injuries reported in those crashes, but none were life-threatening.

According to the National Weather Service, winds were gusting at roughly 45 mph in northern Maine for most of Thursday.

About 3 inches of new snow fell in Caribou Wednesday night. The powerful winds combined with the new snowfall produced whiteout conditions in Aroostook County.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

 

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