James Trask will drive for the governor when he returns to service.

PORTLAND (AP) – A state police detective who was driving too fast when he caused a collision that injured Gov. John Baldacci will be returning to the governor’s executive security detail, officials said Tuesday.

James Trask, a veteran member of the executive protection unit, will be allowed to continue driving the governor when he returns to duty, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety in Augusta.

Both Baldacci and Trask were treated and released from the Maine Medical Center after the accident on Feb. 4. The driver of the second vehicle, Timothy Putnam of Richmond, was not reported to have serious injuries.

Baldacci, who said “accidents happen,” indicated last week there would be no disciplinary action.

McCausland clarified Tuesday that Trask would be allowed to continue driving for the governor.

A state police report said Trask was driving at 55 mph to 65 mph when the Chevrolet Surburban hit Putnam’s car and spun off an icy Interstate 295 in Bowdoinham. The event data recorder showed the SUV traveling at 71 mph about five seconds before the airbag deployed but could be explained because the tires were spinning on the ice, investigators said.

At the time, the speed limit on the interstate had been reduced to 45 mph because of the poor driving conditions.

The SUV, which was only a month old, was demolished when it spun off the highway, crushed a few small trees and came to a rest on its side.

The governor currently has a loaner while awaiting a new vehicle.

Both Trask and the governor suffered mild concussions. The governor also suffered a broken rib.

Trask, who has been wearing a neck brace since the accident, remains on medical leave and is expected to return to active duty in a “couple of weeks,” McCausland said.

Trask, who serves on the Board of Selectmen in Dayton, could not be reached immediately for comment. He has an unlisted phone number, and the town office was closed on Tuesday.

AP-ES-02-10-04 1432EST



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