AUBURN — A utility pole hung by a single wire over Turner Street and a storefront was smashed on Wednesday after a car skidded out of control at about 5 p.m.

The driver, 43-year-old Tina Lagasse, of Auburn, was later charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

Witnesses said the driver was heading in-bound on Turner Street when she drifted toward the sidewalk in front of Electric Beach Tanning. The Dodge Neon clipped a metal utility pole, snapping it off the base and sending it toppling toward Turner Street.

The car then spun in the street, bounced over a sidewalk and crashed into a building a few feet from the downed pole, punching a hole into the store front next to the salon.

Upstairs, apartment residents knew at once the crash was a dramatic one.

“We heard this huge crash and the whole building shook,” said John Brooks, who lives two floors above the area of impact. “Our lights went off and then came back on again.”

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God. That doesn’t sound good,'” said Angie Heiser, who was also upstairs. “It was loud. It’s a sound I don’t ever want to hear again.”

At street level, witnesses said the driver appeared dazed and agitated but unhurt. Lagasse was questioned and given a field sobriety test before she was charged with OUI and violating bail from a previous arrest.

A bottle of laundry detergent flung from her car in the wreck sailed more than 30 feet along the sidewalk, witnesses said.
Over Turner Street, the metal pole felled in the crash was caught by one wire and dangled 40 feet over the street.

“There was a truck going through the other way when she crashed,” said witness Sheldon Roy. “If the pole had come down, it would have come down right on the roof or the hood of it.”

Instead, the metal pole continued to dangle over the street as rescue crews responded.

Auburn firefighters who first arrived quickly examined the area to make sure no live wires had fallen to the ground. Police blocked a section of Turner Street in both directions. Central Maine Power crews were called to the scene and began making repairs.

Police were continuing to investigate the crash Wednesday night.

Auburn Police Officer Michael Richard administers a field sobriety test to the driver of a car that knocked over a light pole on Turner Street in Auburn on Wednesday afternoon.

Auburn Police Officer Michael Richard administers a field sobriety test to the driver of a car that knocked over a light pole on Turner Street in Auburn on Wednesday afternoon.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.