The owner of the truck that crashed into three parked cars in Portland last week said the employee who was behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer has not returned his calls and police are trying to find him.

The 1999 Freightliner belongs to Ridge Road Express Inc., a two-vehicle trucking operation in Littleton, said the company’s owner, Wayne O. Shaw.

The driver left the rig in Auburn, dropped the trailer he was pulling somewhere else and hasn’t been heard from since, Shaw said.

“He’s still missing, as far as I know,” said Shaw, adding that the driver worked for him on and off for three years without problems. “He’s been a great employee on every job.”

Neither police nor Shaw identified the driver, and his name was not in the police report.

Shaw said he’s been cooperating with police and soon will have to deal with the insurance claims brought by the crashes.

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Shaw’s company is based north of Houlton in Aroostook County. Most of his business is hauling potatoes to various processing plants in Massachusetts, he said.

The driver who crashed into the building was on his way back from a potato run and the trailer he was pulling was empty, Shaw said. The trailer was recovered and towed to a heavy equipment yard in Cumberland, he said.

Shaw does not own the trailer and it was not clear Thursday who does.

It also was unclear why the truck driver ventured into downtown Portland.

Witnesses watched on Friday morning as the truck, towing a roughly 50-foot refrigerated trailer, attempted to turn into the parking lot at 39 Forest Ave., the city’s public health department.

But the maneuver was too tight for the hulking truck, and it collided again and again with obstacles in its narrow path. The crash damaged three vehicles, according to a preliminary crash report. One of them belonged to Sandra Green.

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Green’s 2017 Volvo SUV was parked outside the public health building when it was struck by the truck and trailer. The damage totaled the vehicle, she said.

“He hit it three times,” Green said.

Video from bystanders shows the vehicle’s left rear quarter panel area caved in, and car parts strewn around the roadway. The force of the impact pushed the SUV into the rear bumper of a pickup truck parked in front of it, slightly damaging the truck. By the time the trailer was freed of Green’s vehicle, the SUV was perpendicular to the curb, its rear end in pieces.

“I wasn’t away from the car very long. When I came back, he was moving on to other vehicles, ” Green said. “He just did not care about what he had done and what he was doing.”

Police say they have identified a person of interest in the case, but declined to discuss Thursday on whether they had located him.

“With the time that has gone by, it is most likely that the case will be presented to the district attorney before any charging decisions are made,” Major Robert Martin said.

For misdemeanor crimes, an officer must be present when the alleged crime occurred to meet the probable cause standard to make an arrest, Martin said. As time passes after the incident, the probable cause threshold grows more difficult to meet if no arrest occurs immediately. Probable cause does not go “stale” for felony crimes, but sometimes investigators or prosecutors prefer to wait until after obtaining an indictment or a judicial arrest warrant, Martin said.

A 2013 Mercedes Benz parked in the health department lot suffered extensive front-bumper damage. The driver also hit a 2020 Ford police SUV owned by the Maine State Police, which sustained between $8,000 to $10,000 in damage, said Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the agency.

As the trucker backed up into Forest Avenue before trundling away toward Congress Street and apparently entering the highway headed north, he also flattened a parking meter.

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