NORWAY — At least one person was injured Wednesday afternoon when a suspected drunken driver passed out behind the wheel and her sedan entered Main Street and hit a vehicle carrying four people, police Chief Rob Federico said.
Federico said criminal charges are pending against the unnamed female driver of a Dodge who passed out from alcohol consumption as she waited to exit Norway Pines Apartments at 34 Main St. Her foot slid onto the gas pedal, sending the car onto Main Street and into the path of a Chevrolet Blazer, he said.
Federico said he believes there were three people in the Dodge. A male passenger seated directly behind the driver grabbed the wheel of the car and was able to steer it down Route 26 and into the parking lot of the Norway Veterinary Hospital, he said.
"In my opinion she passed out from alcohol," said Federico, who added that the driver was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway for observation.
Federico said the names of all involved were not being released until the investigator's report is finished.
A witness at the scene said the driver of the Blazer was unable to avoid the Dodge.
“She (the driver of the Dodge) hesitated when she was pulling out and then I guess decided 'I'm going to go,'” said Thomas Coore Jr. of Norway, who was driving on Main Street, which is Route 26, and narrowly missed being hit.
Coore said it appeared that the female driver was attempting to turn onto Main Street when the Blazer, carrying four young men, crashed into it. He said the four men did not appear to be injured.
“The Blazer (driver) did everything he could (to avoid the Dodge),” said Coore, who pulled off the road and went to check on the occupants while the Dodge continued south on Main Street.
The Dodge landed in the parking lot of the Norway Veterinary Hospital a tenth of a mile from the crash after a male passenger seated behind the unconscious driver reportedly took control of the steering wheel, Jessica Smith of Sydney said.
Smith, who was at the hospital while her cat had surgery, said she ran to the car as soon as it stopped.
“I made sure they were all breathing,” she said.
Smith said the driver and the front-seat passenger were bleeding, and the driver was conscious.
She said the man seated behind the driver told her he leaned over the front seat and grabbed the wheel of the car and turned off the ignition when he realized the driver had passed out.
“He steered it in here,” she said.
Rescue workers, fire and police personnel from Norway, Paris and Oxford plus a state police trooper were at the scene. The driver was pulled from the front passenger's seat screaming, but conscious.
Federico said he was not sure when specific information about the crash would be released. "We have five days to make a report," he said.
Traffic on the major north-south highway was detoured in each direction for at least an hour.