LEWISTON — Traffic was detained on Lisbon Street at around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday when a woman driving a white SUV toward the downtown lost control of her vehicle and it nose-dived into the canal next to Grimmel's Auto Body shop.
According to a witness, the SUV driver was trying to avoid another vehicle that was stopped in the road.
The driver, Stacie Farrell, 24, of Auburn escaped from the vehicle with minor injuries, Lewiston Fire Capt. Paul Fournier said.
Lewiston police Sgt. David St. Pierre said Farrell was westbound on Lisbon Street, traveling downhill, when she encountered backed-up traffic at the body shop. She likely swerved, then over-corrected and lost control of her vehicle, according to witness statements.
Witnesses said speed could have been a contributing factor, St. Pierre said.
Scott Smith said he saw Farrell's car swerve and leave Lisbon Street. He jumped out of the van he was in, climbed over a fence and ran out to a pier next to Farrell's vehicle.
He had stripped off his hoodie and hat, thinking he'd have to dive into the canal. But when he got to her vehicle, Farrell's passenger window was open and he could see she was trying to climb out. Water was about one foot below her window, Smith said. The driver's side had filled with water. As she climbed out and stood balancing on the open window, Smith and another man pulled her up to the pier, he said.
Smith said he could tell Farrell was starting to go into shock. She was shaking and appeared dazed, he said. He helped her onto land where a passing EMT and a nurse waited to assist.
Smith said he recognized Farrell as someone he'd gone to high school with. Although he hadn't seen her in a few years, he knew she had a couple of children. He checked the back seat of the car to make sure there was no one else in the vehicle, he said.
Farrell was treated and released from Central Maine Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said.
Police and fire rescue crews were on the scene directing traffic for more than an hour after the accident. A crane was called to remove the vehicle from the canal.
That operation took place without complications, police Lt. Mark Watson said. The incident remained under investigation.