SACO (AP) – It was a tough first day on the job for a Gorham man who drove his dump truck into an overpass.

Elmer Plummer was trucking down the Maine Turnpike with the dump truck’s bed fully open when he struck the overpass on Wednesday. The truck bed was peeled away and landed in the roadway.

Plummer, 62, emerged unscathed and no other motorists were hurt, said State Police Lt. Randall Nichols.

“It was the first time the driver had driven this truck,” Nichols said. “Apparently he was given an orientation before using the truck. He obviously did not know that the bed had raised.”

The 2001 Volvo dump truck was traveling about 55 mph just past noon when it crashed into the overpass.

The leading edge of the truck bed hit the bridge at a height of about 22 feet, bending a steel support beam and causing about $100,000 in damage to the bridge, Nichols said.

Plummer had entered the turnpike from a job site and was just getting up to speed when he hit the bridge.

State troopers initially considered charging Plummer but decided against bringing charges after determining it was possible the bed rose as a result of an electrical malfunction.

Michael Cowan, owner of Maine Earthmoving, said he was told an electrical problem engaged the “power takeoff,” which raises the bed using hydraulics. The bed slowly raised as Plummer was driving.

Plummer will not be held responsible, Cowan said.

“We went over it and determined it wasn’t anything he did,” Cowan said. Cowan said insurance would cover the damage.

The overpass, which was rebuilt in 2000, is open to traffic. Work crews hope to be able to heat the bent support beam enough so it can be straightened, police said.

AP-ES-11-13-03 0801EST



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