Several people, including a state trooper, escaped serious injury on Interstate 95 near the New Hampshire border Wednesday when a tractor-trailer drifted and struck a Maine State Police cruiser parked in the breakdown lane before veering left and pinning an SUV against the center median barrier.

The crash occurred about 9:20 a.m. in the southbound lanes of I-95 near mile marker 1, when Trooper Robert Flynn was stopped on the shoulder with his blue lights flashing behind a broken-down flatbed truck and a tow truck that had been dispatched to help, state police said.

As the tow truck driver worked underneath the stopped truck to hook it up for towing, a tractor-trailer driven by Johnny Rogers, 52, of Canastota, New York, drifted into the breakdown lane and struck Flynn’s cruiser.

The big rig then veered across the highway into the left-most lane, striking a Jeep Cherokee and pinning it against the median barrier. A husband and wife and their two children were in the SUV at the time, but no one was seriously injured.

The tow truck driver, who was lying underneath the other truck at the time of the crash, was not harmed. The driver of the flatbed truck, who was standing on the shoulder, was struck by a flying piece of debris from Flynn’s cruiser.

The trooper and occupants of the SUV and flatbed truck sustained minor injuries and were treated at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. The driver of the tractor-trailer was cited for distracted driving and failure to move over for an emergency vehicle, police said.


Ralph Cresta, who owns National Wrecker Service, said the tow truck driver who was underneath the other vehicle was badly shaken up.

“We had a trooper behind us, thank Christ,” said Cresta, a 45-year veteran of the towing business with dispatch locations in Portsmouth and Eliot.

Cresta said drivers are slow to obey the slow-down-and-move-over law, which requires passing motorists to give stopped emergency vehicles space by moving away from the righthand travel lane or face a $275 fine.

“Distracted driving is getting crazier and crazier,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s why this happened. We might not ever know why the tractor -trailer slammed into the trooper. If the cruiser wasn’t there, I could have lost a wrecker driver.”

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