HANOVER – Western Maine drivers got a rude awakening on Tuesday when a winter storm swept across the state, covering roads with a greasy mix of snow, sleet and hail. The mess kept emergency responders busy all day and into the night handling accidents.
A 1918 gravestone in a cemetery in Hanover was flattened during the storm when an older model Chevrolet van heading east rolled off Route 2 and landed right-side up among the graves.
Investigating Oxford County Deputy Chancey Libby said at the scene that Jeffrey Turner, 47, of Portland, who was driving the VIP Courier Express van, lost control on slush.
The van’s roof was dented by the headstone of Mary B. McPherson, who lived a scant 30 years, from 1888 to 1918.
Libby said Turner, who got out on his own, suffered minor injuries including facial cuts. He was helped into a car parked in a driveway at 2584 Route 2, to await help and get out of the storm.
Med-Care Ambulance Assistant Chief Christopher Moretto said at the scene that as a precaution, Turner was strapped onto a backboard before being loaded into an ambulance. He was taken to Rumford Hospital.
Turner was treated and released late Tuesday afternoon, according to a hospital nursing supervisor.
The crash was the third that Libby had investigated since starting his shift at 3 a.m.
At 5:30 a.m., a 1995 Ford Explorer SUV slid off Farmers Hill Road in East Andover and rolled into dead trees, Libby said.
Driver Roger Belanger, 53, of Andover, was not injured.
“He’s very lucky the dead trees were there. Otherwise, he would have gone way down in the gully,” Libby said. The SUV was totaled.
About 7 a.m. on Route 120 in Roxbury Notch, a Mazda pickup driven by Sue Martin, 51, no town listed, tangled with a Roxbury plow truck operated by Patrick Gorham, 44, of Peru, Libby said.
“That Mazda truck took a beating. It skidded on ice and snow in front of the plow, which devastated the little truck,” he said.
Martin escaped unscathed, he added.
In Rumford, snowfall began at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sgt. James Bernard said.
At 5:58 a.m., a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer operated by Beth Frisbie, who is in her 30s, of Rumford, rolled off South Rumford Road after encountering slush while headed north, Bernard said.
Frisbie was not injured, but the SUV sustained an estimated $3,500 damage, he added.
Rumford police also responded to several non-reportable accidents, and, at one point, had to shut down Isthmus Road for 90 minutes when a SAD 43 school bus loaded with students slid off the road, Bernard said.
The children, none of whom were injured, were offloaded into another SAD 43 bus. A big-rig tow truck from M/T Pockets of Dixfield pulled the stuck bus back onto the road so it could be driven away, Bernard added.