BETHEL — Three men escaped serious injury Thursday afternoon after the driver of a tractor-trailer loaded with 32 tons of wood chips, rear-ended a left-turning Rumford landscaping truck and trailer on Route 2, according to all three men.

Corey Mills, 26, of Peru, said he was driving a Michael J. Mills Landscaping truck and trailer east on Route 2 at about 3:45 p.m. when he slowed to turn left onto Sunday River Road opposite the Sunday River Brewing Co. His passenger was Eric Welch, 30, of Mexico.

Directly behind them was Jamie Murphy, 35, of Canton, in a 22-wheel, 2007 Volvo tractor-trailer carrying 98,000 pounds of wood chips to the NewPage Inc. paper mill in Rumford. The rig is owned by Midwest Price Co. LLC of West Paris.

Murphy said he was blinded by the sun, started slowing, and reached up to pull the visor down. That’s when he said he suddenly saw — directly ahead of him — that the landscaping truck trailer’s left-turning blinker was on. He said he tried to swerve.

The driver’s-side corner of Murphy’s rig slammed into the landscaping trailer, shoving the Rumford truck and trailer toward a large sign at the intersection, Welch said.

The trailer was loaded with lawn and garden equipment and tools.

“We were just slowing down to turn when he hit us,” Welch said. “He didn’t brake at all until he hit us. It happened all so quickly.”

Murphy said the roof of the crushed landscaping trailer punched into his windshield, shattering and driving it into the cab and down atop his hand on the steering wheel.

A Bethel Rescue crew was called to bandage the bloody gash. Murphy went to Rumford Hospital by private vehicle to get treatment.

Both Mills and Welch, whose truck and trailer came to rest facing toward Bethel, said they were shaken up, but not injured.

The tractor-trailer truck came to rest blocking both highway lanes, leaving the emergency lane open for eastbound traffic only.

The Midwest Price trucking owner estimated damage to the tractor-trailer at $21,000.

She said it was her company’s first trucking accident in a year and a half, and the only one of four in the company’s eight-year history that was driver error.

Michael Mills of Rumford estimated damage to his company trailer and equipment at $30,000.

Bisson and Hebert of Rumford hauled the totaled trailer away, while M/T Pockets of Dixfield towed the mangled cab of the tractor-trailer.

Another Midwest Price truck cab arrived to take the undamaged trailer load of wood chips to the Rumford mill.

Bethel firefighters rerouted traffic around the accident for two hours before the road was cleared.

The firefighters also cleaned up diesel fuel, other vehicle liquids, and debris on the highway.

Bethel police and a Maine State Police trooper, who was returning home following grand jury testimony at Oxford County Superior Court in Paris, worked the scene until Trooper Tim Turner of the Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division could arrive to handle the accident.

[email protected]

Midwest Price Co. chip truck driver Jamie Murphy, center, of Canton, talks with an unidentified man after the tractor-trailer Murphy was driving slammed into the Michael J. Mills Landscaping trailer at right at about 3:45 p.m. Thursday on Route 2 in Bethel. Murphy suffered a hand laceration in the accident, which caused an estimated $51,000 in total damage to the big rig’s cab and the landscaping trailer and equipment inside.

Midwest Price Co. LLC tractor-trailer driver Jamie Murphy, 35, of Canton, looks inside the cab of the tractor-trailer truck he was driving east on Route 2 in Bethel on Thursday. It collided with the rear of a Rumford landscaping company’s trailer and truck. Damage to the rig, which was hauling 32 tons of wood chips to Rumford’s NewPage Inc. paper mill, was estimated at $21,000. Murphy suffered a cut hand. Nobody else was injured.

Damage to the Michael J. Mills Landscaping trailer, which was loaded with lawn and garden equipment and tools, was estimated at $30,000 after it was rear-ended Thursday afternoon on Route 2 in Bethel by a tractor-trailer loaded with 32 tons of wood chips. The chip truck driver said he was blinded by the sun and didn’t see the landscaping truck, which had slowed to turn left onto Sunday River Road to head to a job in Newry.

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.