RUMFORD — Two people were injured in collisions on Thursday, but only one was admitted to Rumford Hospital, police said.

The first crash happened at about 5:52 a.m. when Randy Hemingway, 62, of Mexico, was driving a 2006 Dodge pickup truck owned by NewPage Inc. on River Street past Rite Aid, Rumford police Sgt. Douglas Maifeld said Friday.

Maifeld said Hemingway had left the paper mill’s upper gate and lost consciousness while driving. He said the truck accelerated and hit the guardrail across from Rite Aid and went airborne.

The white pickup hit several small trees, shattering some and scuffing others as it traveled down the embankment through the air before colliding with Memorial Bridge, Maifeld said.

On the way down, the truck hit the pole that holds up traffic lights for the Bridge and River streets intersection, and the lights came down, he said. After a short while, Hemingway woke up and walked back to the upper gate and reported the accident, he said.

Maifeld said that he and Detective Sgt. James Bernard had arrived at the department for the day’s shift when Maifeld said he heard a loud noise and saw the traffic lights falling toward the street.

At that time, a tractor-trailer truck was driving through the intersection as the lights came down on it, and the rig’s driver unwittingly ripped them down and continued on without stopping, Maifeld said. He didn’t believe the driver was even aware that his rig had snagged the lights.

Additionally, a wire that prevented the traffic signals from swinging in the wind was severed, causing it to flip up and land on a live power line, Maifeld said.

Maifeld and Bernard blocked the area with their cruisers and discovered the accident scene down the embankment. Hemingway was taken to Rumford Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment, Maifeld said.

“It was nothing life-threatening,” he said. “He had an accident in the mill earlier in the day and hit his head and could have had a concussion-related injury. He did have a bump on his head, but he could have hit his head on the steering wheel.”

Maifeld said traffic was stopped from traveling over Memorial Bridge and on Bridge Street due to the wires being down. Rumford firefighters assisted police with traffic control.

A Central Maine Power crew removed the signal wire from the power line and an A.D. Electric crew reconnected the traffic signal lights and wires. It tied up the two officers for about seven hours, he said.

MT Pockets Towing and Repair of Dixfield retrieved the pickup, which had damage to its front grill and driver’s side. Rumford police do not provide damage estimates.

Maifeld said he asked for stop signs to be erected on Bridge Street at the intersection after seeing drivers failing to stop for the flashing red lights of the restored traffic signal.

The second accident happened during a snowstorm Thursday afternoon.

Salena Sawtelle, 19, of Dixfield was driving a 2001 Honda CRV east on Route 2 at 2:38 p.m. and entered the curve, just west of Sam’s Italian Restaurant.

She “was traveling too fast for road conditions and failed to negotiate the curve, striking the guardrail and rolling over and coming to rest in the travel lane,” Maifeld said.

He said Sawtelle suffered a bloody nose but wasn’t taken to the hospital.

Maifeld said snow up against the guardrail enabled the car to go up into the air and roll over. He believes the car only rolled once.

“I asked her how many times it rolled over and she said she didn’t know, because she closed her eyes and just held on,” he said. “She was wearing a seat belt and the airbag went off. She was a lucky girl.

“A lot of people driving the speed limit don’t realize they’re driving too fast for road conditions at that speed and should slow down,” Maifeld said.

Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant helped Maifeld with the crash scene while Rumford firefighters handled traffic control until the demolished car could be righted and removed.

[email protected]


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.