Three separate automobile accidents in southern Maine during the Tuesday evening commute left at least one man dead, an elderly woman critically injured and four other people hospitalized, authorities said.
The most severe crash took place around 5:30 p.m. when two vehicles collided on U.S. Route 202 in Sanford. Sanford police Cpl. Matthew Gagne said a man who was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was killed in the crash. The identity of the victim was not immediately released pending notification of his relatives.
Gagne said the pickup truck struck a Jeep Comanche, a sport utility vehicle, that was carrying two people – a man and woman. They had to be transported by LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.
Gagne said the driver of a tractor-trailer truck witnessed the crash, which remains under investigation. The collision took place near the intersection of Route 202 and Mt. Hope Road. Police had to shut down Route 202 for several hours after the accident.
In Portland, a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 295 left Lois Carson, 80, of Portland in critical condition, police said.
The accident created a traffic quagmire just before rush hour. Vehicles were backed up on the highway for miles, bringing downtown traffic to a crawl as workers heading home for the night tried to get out of the city.
The accident, which occurred on I-295 southbound between the Franklin Street and Forest Avenue exits, was reported at 4:05 p.m. The roadway wasn’t cleared until 7 p.m., authorities said.
“We had to shut it down. The vehicles were in the middle of the highway,” Portland Deputy Fire Chief Robert Stewart said. “We had to extract two people from a van that was on its side.”
Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said the Portland crash occurred when a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze driven by Susan Tanzer, 62, of Pennsylvania slowed down in the right lane. Her car was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by Jonah King, 25, of South Portland.
A third vehicle – a 2006 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Dennis Carson, 53, of Portland – struck Tanzer’s car, causing the Equinox, a sport utility vehicle, to overturn and come to rest on its side.
Carson’s mother, Lois, was taken to Maine Med, where she was listed in critical condition Tuesday night. Stewart said two others injured in the crash also were taken to the Portland hospital and appeared to be in stable condition.
The traffic backed up so quickly after the crash that it slowed efforts by the fire department to reach the crash scene, where the people in the Equinox had to be extracted using a hydraulic tool, according to Stewart.
“It was pretty congested. We had a hard time getting down there,” Stewart said.
Jeff Singleton, who was trying to make his way from his home in Albion to Massachusetts, was one of many motorists who were stuck in traffic because of the accident.
“We’re parked. We haven’t moved,” Singleton said on his cellphone while idling in traffic on I-295 southbound at 6:35 p.m.
Traffic began moving again just before 7 p.m., he said.
The third accident during Tuesday evening’s rush hour was a “multi-vehicle crash” that took place near the high-speed toll plaza on Interstate 95 in New Gloucester at 4:50 p.m., said Dan Morin, a spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Debris from the accident blocked the cash-only lanes, forcing motorists to drive around the crash scene. No injuries were reported, Morin said.
The traffic jam caused by the crash backed up vehicles for two miles at its worst, according to Morin. He said state police took quick action to allow motorists to pass through toll booths without paying, and the jam was cleared by about 6 p.m.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:
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