LEWISTON – A police officer was taken to a hospital early today after a two-vehicle collision at Court Street and Minot Avenue in front of Denny’s Restaurant.

The officer, Shawn Carll, said to be new to the force, was being treated for neck and back pain following the 11:50 p.m. crash Tuesday. A woman driving the second car was not seriously hurt. She was taken to the police stationed to be questioned about the collision.

Denny’s employee Brandon Samson said he was outside Denny’s and saw the cruiser crossing Court Street, headed toward Union Street Bypass with the emergency lights on. He said a woman driving a Dodge Neon was headed through the intersection toward Goff Hill, and she had a green light.

Several people said Carll tried to steer around the Dodge in the intersection, but the cruiser was clipped on the rear of the passenger side. It then spun in the roadway and wrapped around a utility pole in the median.

“He spun right into that pole, and the light at the top of it came right off,” Samson said. “We went over to make sure he was all right. He said his neck and throat hurt.”

Other details about how the crash occurred varied as more witnesses gathered at the scene. One man, who did not want his name used, agreed with Samson’s account of the collision but said the cruiser’s blue lights did not come on until after it had crashed into the pole.

Others said they heard the impact of the crash but did not see what led up to it.

The driver of a third car that narrowly missed being struck in the collision was also questioned, as were other potential witnesses.

The investigation was being handled by the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, a standard procedure in accidents involving police cruisers.

Police declined to name either of the drivers as the investigation was getting under way early this morning.