AUGUSTA — A Waterville veteran was critically injured Sunday morning when he happened upon a Route 3 crash and was hit by a van while trying to help the injured driver.
Jeremy Gilley, 26, was taken by a LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with serious injuries, said Augusta Police Sgt. Christopher Shaw. A hospital spokeswoman said she could not release information, but Shaw said Gilley was in critical condition Sunday afternoon after suffering severe injuries to both legs and other internal injuries.
Christopher Bizier, 31, of Augusta, the driver Gilley was trying to help when he was hit, also was taken by LifeFlight to Central Maine Medical Center, where he was treated and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The driver of the minivan that hit Gilley, a 16-year-old Augusta boy, was not injured, Shaw said.
The accident happened shortly after midnight Sunday on Route 3 near the Kennebec River bridge. Bizier, who was driving his pickup truck east, veered to the side of the road and hit a guardrail, Shaw said. The truck caromed off the rail and spun back into the road, coming to rest in the westbound lane.
Gilley, who also was driving east, came upon the crash and parked just in front of Bizier’s truck. Gilley got out of his vehicle to help Bizier, Shaw said.
“A minivan traveling west doesn’t see the truck in the travel lane — he doesn’t see anything,” Shaw said. “He hits the truck while (Gilley) is outside the truck and pinned (Gilley) between the minivan and the truck.”
The teen driver tried to put the minivan in reverse to free Gilley, but the van would not go into gear, Shaw said. The van subsequently rolled back into a ditch and caught fire.
“The vehicle was engulfed in flames when we arrived,” Shaw said.
Gilley, who was conscious when first responders arrived, told police he was a military veteran. Shaw did not immediately know when or where Gilley served, or in which branch.
Attempts to gather information on Gilley’s military service through veterans’ agencies were unsuccessful.
“He did not look at his legs,” Shaw said. “He asked the officer to hold his hand.”
Gilley’s cousin, who recently graduated from basic training, was riding with Gilley at the time of the accident, Shaw said.
“She was on the phone with 911 when (Gilley) got hit by the van,” Shaw said.
Both LifeFlight helicopters landed on Route 3. Bizier was likely injured before the van hit his truck, Shaw said.
“We do believe he was injured in the first accident,” Shaw said. “To what extent, we’re not sure.”
Police have not determined what caused Bizier’s truck to hit the guardrail in the first place. Blood samples were taken from the drivers to test for intoxicants, which is standard in crashes that cause serious injuries.
Shaw said the area where the crash occurred is unlit, but the right lane was clear for travel and allowed room to avoid the crash.
Traffic was detoured for a few hours as police investigated the crash.
“We shut Route 3 down all the way from West River Road to Riverside Drive,” Shaw said.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642