SANDY RIVER PLANTATION — Two teens were killed and several others were seriously injured Monday night in a car crash on Route 4.

Thomas Deckard-Madore, 17, of Strong and Michaela Morgan, 15, of Phillips died in a car crash Monday night.

The teens were identified as Thomas Deckard-Madore, 17, of Strong and Michaela Morgan, 15, of Phillips.

According to state police, at about 8:45 p.m. a 2017 Toyota Avalon driven by Karl Crute, 79, and carrying his wife, Laraine Crute, 79, of Cushing was traveling north on Route 4 in Sandy River Plantation and a 2009 Pontiac G6 driven by Kaylee Knight, 18, of Chesterville collided.

Deckard-Madore and Morgan were two of four teenage passengers in Knight’s car. The others have not been identified.

Deckard-Madore was a senior at Mt. Abram Regional High School in Salem Township, where he played varsity basketball.

Mt. Abram boys basketball coach Dustin Zamboni described Deckard-Madore as energetic and hardworking with a good attitude. Zamboni was also proud of the way the senior stayed on top of his grades, and added that his absence will leave a big hole on the team.


“If you happened to drive by his house, he’d be working on basketball all on his own (during the coronavirus quarantine),” Zamboni said. “He cared about his team. So he cared about other people. He was passionate, easy to get along with and had a good head on his shoulders.

“Our whole team chemistry got better when he came on board. His attitude was contagious,” the coach said. “Our practices were more uplifted, energetic just by him. He was always clapping hands, (doing) high-fives. Great guy to have on the team.”

Morgan, who was a sophomore at Mt. Abram, played basketball and was a consistent honor roll student.

Mt Abram girls basketball Larry Donald coached Morgan for five years before she joined the Roadrunners at the high school. He said the crash has devastated the community.

“It is not what I expected to hear today,” he said. “Super kid. She was quiet and not one to pipe up. She showed up everyday (at practice). Pretty good attitude 99% of the time. Her confidence was coming around pretty decent this year. 

“She was one of the nicest kids I have ever coached — never rocked the boat and always worked hard,” Donald said. “I talked to a father today that stopped in here at my store. He’s a trucker and he stopped in. His boy was supposed to go with them (bowling). He didn’t feel good so he went home. He would have been in the car with them.” 


The driver, Knight, is a senior at Mt. Abram and also plays on the girls varsity basketball team.

The Crutes, along with one other passenger in the Pontiac, remain hospitalized Tuesday with serious injuries.


Just after the crash, the Franklin County Regional Communication Center in Farmington advised in a Facebook post that Route 4 was closed from Sandy River Plantation south to Phillips until further notice. “Please avoid the area and use caution as all roads are becoming slick,” the post said.

According to state police spokeswoman Katy England, the agency is continuing to investigate the crash, including the cause.

State police were assisted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Rangeley Police Department, Rangeley Fire Rescue, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, Northstar Ambulance, Border Patrol agents and the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office, among others from the area.


England wrote in an email Tuesday, “We are saddened by this tragic incident and extend our condolences to the families of everyone involved.”

The death of the two students has hit hard around the region.

“Thomas was a kind young man who enjoyed sports, especially basketball,” Mount Abram Principal Shelley Tranten wrote in an email Tuesday. “He worked hard and always strived to do his best academically and athletically.

“Michaela was a sweet young lady who was outstanding academically and loved sports, excelling at soccer and basketball. She always had a smile to share,” Tranten wrote.

She shared the district’s statement on the loss.

The Maine School Administrative District 58 “community has experienced a great loss. Our primary goal now is to provide the support our students, families, and staff need to cope with a tragedy of such magnitude. With the generous assistance of many surrounding school districts we will be providing counseling support at Mount Abram High School as well as Strong and Phillips Elementary Schools, as these are the schools the students involved in the accident attended during their elementary school years. We will also work closely with the families of those directly involved to provide them whatever support they may need as those students transition back to school.”


Maine School Administrative District 58 in the Kingfield area will have counselors available for students and staff who are trying to cope with this tragedy.

“We will have four counselors available, either in-person or virtually, for students and staff at Mount Abram Regional High School on Wednesday and then three in-person on Thursday and Friday as to guarantee that students, regardless of which cohort they are in, have the opportunity to speak with someone if they so desire,” Superintendent Todd Sanders wrote in an email Tuesday.  “There will be no remote instruction for students at Mount Abram High School on Wednesday. Mount Abram will return to hybrid instruction on Thursday and Friday.”

They will also have two counselors at Strong Elementary School and Phillips Elementary School for students and staff on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday during the day, he wrote.

“These are the two schools the students involved attended during their elementary years,” he wrote. “Should it be determined we need additional support for more days we will work hard to secure it. We will proceed with our remote/virtual instruction on Wednesday as scheduled and our in-person/remote, and virtual instruction on Thursday at these schools.”

Sanders expressed his gratitude to area school systems, Regional School Unit 9 in the Farmington area,  RSU 74 in the Anson area, RSU 73 in the Jay area, and Western Maine Behavioral Health “who have all offered to assist us with this truly important and necessary support.”

Principal Georgia Campbell of the Rangeley Lakes Regional School in Rangeley posted a message to students, parents and community members on the school’s Facebook page.


“I am deeply saddened to report that our neighboring school district MSAD 58 suffered tremendous loss last evening due to a car accident that occurred in Sandy River Plantation. As I struggle to find some words that might be of some comfort, I am truly at a loss. What I can say is that in the coming days, we will need to lean on each other, take care of each other and be there in any way possible for our neighbors,” Campbell wrote.

Amanda Brown of Rumford, Michaela’s cousin who grew up in Freeman Township, wrote in a message, “My cuz was an amazing kid, honor roll, sports, hunting. She loved camping being outside. Her family would always go to Boothbay every summer. They were always outside. She was always on the go and very active in everything she did.”

Thomas was an amazing young man who loves sports, Brown wrote.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them and in a blink they are gone,” she wrote.

They were both loved by their community and family and will be sadly missed by all who had a chance to meet them, Brown wrote.

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