DURHAM — Clifton “C.J.” Larrabee of Durham is on the mend after a horrific crash that killed two others early on the morning of Sept. 21. He’s thankful that, although seriously injured, he survived — and he’s also grateful for the help he’s been receiving from family and friends.

Larrabee, 42, has been undergoing physical therapy, occupational therapy and dental appointments since being released from Maine Medical Center in Portland, four days after the accident. He’s recuperating at home with his wife, Amy, and two children, Lauren and Noah.

Larrabee expressed gratitude last week for the support he has received from family and friends, including those from Acacia Masonic Lodge. The lodge, on Royalsborough Road, across from River Park, is hosting a benefit dinner from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. There will be multiple seatings if necessary to accommodate the turnout.

The menu includes roast pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables, homemade desserts, coffee and juice. Durham Fire and Rescue, of which Larrabee has been a member since he was 14, will have raffles at the supper.

Proceeds will help with Larrabee’s medical expenses. 

“I think it’s awesome what they’re doing,” Larrabee said while visiting his mother, Deb. “We’ve done it for so many other Masons in need.”

Larrabee can walk around now, but he still wears a body brace to heal the three fractured vertebrae in his upper back, and he’s nursing a concussion. He is unsure when he will be able to rejoin his father, Clifton Larrabee Sr., in their two-man operation, Larrabee’s Construction, about half a mile from where the accident occurred near the intersection of Hallowell (Route 9) and Rabbit roads.

The passenger door of Larrabee’s truck was struck by a pickup truck driven by Brandon Harthorne of Cornish. Harthorne failed to heed a stop sign on Rabbit Road, according to a police report. Harthorne and his passenger, Malakai Cawood of Limington, were ejected and killed instantly, police said. Another passenger in Harthorne’s truck, Jeremy Reardon of Limington, suffered serious injuries but survived.

The impact knocked Larrabee’s 2001 Volvo dump truck on its side.

“It wasn’t long until our paramedics had me out of that truck,” Larrabee said. “It just happened to be I was at the intersection. A school bus could have been going there.”

Larrabee said he does not know if his back will fully heal, but he’s satisfied with his progress.

“Plus, I’m motivated,” he said. “I miss the work and working at the firehouse. When the tones go off and you can’t go out, you get a different feeling. I love helping the people.”

Larrabee and his father, who drives the “old truck,” a 1989 Ford, do excavation work, foundations, septic systems, landscaping and driveways. During the slower winter months, they mostly do snowplowing.

Deb Larrabee praised her son for having a “lively spirit that just keeps going.” He takes after his father, she said.

“He’s got good spirit,” she said, “and he wants to go back to work. His father’s like that. He just wants to be working all the time.”

Deb Larrabee vividly recalled saying goodbye to her son the morning of the accident.

“It was just a quick mother-son thing,” she said. “I just gave him a hug and said I love him and to drive safely — and 10 minutes later, I got the call.”

C.J. Larrabee said he has learned something from the tragedy.

“You’ve got to live every day just like it was your last day,” he said. “You can’t dwell on what happened. You’ve got to look forward.”


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