SKOWHEGAN — The driver of an 18-wheeler involved in a crash Thursday that sent a woman and her grandchild to the hospital has been charged with improper passing.

The owner of the truck also was charged with having an expired inspection sticker.

Truck driver Timothy Richards, 55, of Harmony, was driving east on U.S. Route 2 toward the town of Canaan when a car slowed down in front of him, Skowhegan police Officer Herb Oliver said Friday.

Richards steered his empty logging truck into the oncoming lane of traffic, where it struck a Dodge SUV nearly head-on.

“He chose to go to the left to try and avoid hitting that vehicle, not realizing that there was another one coming toward him,” Oliver said. “Speed might have been a factor to it — possibly even driver inattention on his part.”

The victims’ relatives said the injured woman was Deborah Blanchet and the child is her granddaughter, Kaylee Blodgett, both of Canaan. They were treated for minor injuries at Redington-Fairview General Hospital and released.

Oliver said Richards complained of leg pain, but declined medical attention.

He said both vehicles were damaged beyond repair.

Travis Hayden, the owner of the 1985 Freightliner tractor-trailer registered to Phoenix Trucking, of Harmony, was cited for an expired inspection sticker. Oliver said Hayden previously had been cited for not having the same truck inspected.

The crash sent both vehicles into a large snowbank, just short of a stand of trees, at the entrance to the state Department of Transportation yard. The truck ended in a jackknifed position on the SUV’s side of the road.

The truck’s tires left skid marks on the road for about 100 feet, crossing the center line in front of the Somerset Woods rest area on the Kennebec River and the state DOT garage.

Oliver said the accident could have been worse if the snow bank had not been there.

“The snow that was there at the corner of the DOT maintenance lot did a lot for cushioning the whole thing,” Oliver said. “Had that pile of snow not been there, they might of ended up in the trees.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
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