Two teenagers and a 12-year-old girl were killed Sunday morning when the car they were passengers in slammed into a tree on the Hinckley Road in Clinton, Maine State Police said.

Thomas Porfirio, 15, Emily Baker, 14, and her younger sister, Ashlin Baker, all of Clinton, died at the scene, according to Clinton Police Chief Stanley W. Bell.

The victims were students at Lawrence High School and Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield, according to School Administrative District 49 Superintendent Roberta Hersom.

 

Workers move a wrecked car into the bed of a tow truck after it crashed in Clinton on Sunday morning, killing two teens and a 12-year-old, and injuring two others. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

State police spokesman Steve McCausland said that Nevaeh Wilson, 12, of Clinton was injured along with the driver, a 16-year-old Clinton boy. His name was being withheld Sunday as investigators and the district attorney’s office reviewed the crash investigation. Wilson and the boy were being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland for injuries that were not life-threatening.

McCausland said the driver did not have a driver’s license, a fact that could result in charges being filed against him by the DA’s Office.

“The cause of the crash, the specifics of what may have led to the crash, are all things that we continue to work on,” McCausland said Sunday night, adding that the Clinton Police Department is investigating where the youths had come from and where they were headed so early on a Sunday morning.

In a post Sunday night  on Facebook, Bell asked for the public’s help. “We are asking anyone who may have seen anything prior to the accident or had contact with any of the victims to please contact us as we work to piece together the events leading up to the accident,” the police chief said.

State troopers said the car struck an icy patch on the road, went into an uncontrolled skid and struck a large tree on the passenger side of the 2007 Toyota Corolla.

The cause of the crash, which took place around 7:16 a.m., was likely speed and driver inexperience, according to McCausland.

A neighbor told News Center Maine (WCSH-TV/WLBZ-TV) that the noise from the impact of the car striking the tree sounded like a bomb going off.

“It’s hard to stand here and not break down into tears,” Norman Prosper of Clinton told the television station. Prosper said his grandchildren were friends of the crash victims.

The car involved in a fatal crash in Clinton on Sunday awaits towing. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

The crash was reported by another driver. Several state troopers and accident reconstructionists rushed to the scene and were working with Clinton police, authorities said.

At the scene on Hinckley Road, 6 miles from Route 23 and 2 miles from downtown Clinton, the small Toyota was a mangled mass of metal on the north side of the road, where it had hit a large pine tree.

Strewn around it were car parts, disposable coffee cups, soda bottles and fast food containers.

State and Clinton police, as well as firefighters from Clinton, Fairfield and Burnham, were working at the scene, where they had blocked the road on each end. The bodies were removed from the scene about 11:30 a.m.

An hour earlier, Chief  Bell confirmed the five youths were from Clinton. He all of their parents had been notified, although one parent asked for more time before releasing names because a grandmother and aunt close to a victim had not been told of the deaths.

In a post Sunday evening on the SAD 49 Facebook page, Hersom said: “Our community is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our students, sisters Ashlin and Emily Baker, and Thomas Porfirio. Our hearts break for their families at this most unimaginably painful and difficult time, and through the grief they will face for their much beloved children.”

Hersom said the district has assembled a crisis response team that will offer support to students at both the high school and the junior high school. Counselors will be available throughout the day on Monday. Hersom said that elementary school principals are also prepared to lend a helping hand as the school community grieves for the crash victims.

“Students, staff, parents, friends and community members of this district will continue to support one another, and seek assistance from the schools as much as is needed. I am certain that all those associated with this very special community will serve with heartfelt concern and caring,” Hersom wrote in her post.

The crash occurred near 272 Hinckley Road, near the Ironworkers Local No. 496 building at 277 Hinckley Road. The speed limit is 45 mph on that straight stretch of road, which has a slight incline and appeared mostly clear of snow and ice Sunday.

It was sunny and cold Sunday – about 14 degrees – and bystanders said temperatures had dipped below zero during the night and early morning.

Clinton firefighters and rescue workers responded to the call and notified Bell. He said Clinton police are the primary investigators and received assistance from state police, who also were reconstructing the accident.

Bell said Jeremy Day, the school resource officer at Lawrence High school, had been at the scene earlier Sunday.

“He was here and they’re going to have an administrative meeting,” Bell said. “All the children were Lawrence students. … Administrators have to be ready for tomorrow.”

Many people watched from a distance Sunday as emergency workers worked at the scene, including as the car was loaded onto a flatbed truck and taken away.

Dan Bickford, who lives up the road from the site, said he heard about the crash and stopped to see what was happening.

“They had their whole life ahead of them,” he said of the youths. “There was nothing left of that car.”

A couple on whose property the crash occurred but who asked not to be identified said they were awakened by the sound of the crash. The man said he dressed and went outside and saw the car had struck the pine tree he planted 43 years ago.

“There have been accidents here,” he said, “but nothing like that.”

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