Big turnout expected at four sisters’ funeral

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ASHLAND (AP) – A large turnout is expected at Saturday’s funeral services for four sisters who were killed when their car strayed into the path of an oncoming logging truck.

The services for the girls, ages 3 to 16, will be held at 2 p.m. at the Ashland Central School, said Jim Ouellette of the Stimson Ouellette Funeral Home. A private burial service will follow at the Ashland Municipal Cemetery.

The girls died instantly Monday when their Pontiac Sunfire was crushed and pushed hundreds of feet by the tractor-trailer, police said.

The crash at 11:30 a.m. happened on a slight curve on Route 11, about half a mile from the girls’ home. Police Chief Cyr Martin identified the sisters as Paige Long, 16, Melinda “Mindy” Long, 15, Victoria Basso, 5, and Trinity Basso, 3.

After the crash, a portion of the route between Sherman Mills and Fort Kent was closed for hours. Oil, gasoline and diesel fuel covered several hundred feet of the pavement. The odor of petroleum filled the air.

The car, driven by Paige Long, apparently strayed into the southbound lane, investigators said. The truck driver tried to veer right but ran over the vehicle. The car was pushed for several hundred feet before it overturned in a ditch. “The car seemed to be on the wrong side of the road,” Martin said. “The trucker tried to react, but he could not.”

The truck driver, Gerald Bean, 39, of Enfield, suffered only minor bruises and refused to be treated by medical personnel, Martin said.

Most of the emergency workers knew the girls and were deeply affected by the tragedy. “The girls were related, like nieces, of several people on the ambulance department,” Martin said. “Some of them are having a rough time.”

Martin also serves as chairman of the School Administrative District 32. He approved assistance for grieving students Monday afternoon.

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