A woman walked away without significant injury following a horrific collision Tuesday on the Maine Turnpike spur near Main Street in South Portland.
The crash occurred about 8 a.m. when a tanker truck hauling gasoline crashed into the back end of a 2010 Toyota Corolla, slamming it into a pickup and crushing it between the two trucks.
The driver of the car, Joyce Gauthier, 48 of Portland, was on her way to work at Hannaford corporate headquarters when she slowed for a long line of traffic trying to enter Route 1.
“I looked up in my rearview mirror and I saw him coming,” Gauthier said. “I saw him coming and I was terrified.”
The truck slammed so hard into Gauthier’s car that the rear half collapsed, the front end was mangled and the roof ripped backward.
Amazingly, Gauthier was not seriously injured.
With what she described as “adrenalized craziness,” she stood up on her seat, raised her fists in the air and yelled, “Airbags!”
“Without them, I would have been a goner,” she said. “I’m just so thankful for people like Ralph Nader who fight for consumer protection.”
The truck driver, Frederick Smith, 48, of Kennebunk, was not injured but was shaken up, terrified of what he might find as he approached the car, and was relieved to find Gauthier OK.
“He helped me climb out the roof and I said, ‘I’m going to need a hug.’ I made him hug me,” she said.
Gauthier was not seriously injured beyond some bruising and was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
The truck is owned by Branch Brook Transportation of Arundel. Smith said he was momentarily blinded by the sun as the cars ahead of him were slowing down, police said. Police did not issue a citation.
Gauthier, relaxing at home Tuesday night, said she is still overwhelmed by her brush with death.
“I am still in shock that I survived with just a few bruises,” she said. “The doctor told me tomorrow I might feel more like a train wreck – truck wreck.”
Gauthier bought her 2010 Toyota Corolla new because it was economical and reliable. And safe.
“I’ll probably get another,” she said.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]