MADISON — A driver whose shoelaces became tangled on the gas pedal drove through a stop sign and into a busy intersection, crashing into another truck and sending two men to the hospital Wednesday morning, according to police.
Jon Bachelder, 42, of Readfield, had just finished making a delivery to Hillbilly Mini’s & Auto on Ward Hill Road when his shoelaces became snarled on the gas pedal of his delivery truck. He drove through a stop sign at the intersection of Ward Hill Road and Main Street at around 11:30 a.m., said Sgt. David Trask of the Madison Police Department.
Bachelder’s truck collided with a pickup truck driven by Daniel Weese, 46, of Athens. He and his father, David Weese, 71, also of Athens, a passenger in the pickup, were driving west on Main Street, which is Route 148, said Trask. The pickup truck rolled over and came to rest upright on Old County Road, on the other side of the intersection.
Daniel Weese, 46, was pinned under the dashboard while flames rose from the front of the vehicle, said Trask.
The Weeses were both taken by ambulance to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan. Both men were in fair condition and were still being assessed for injuries late Wednesday afternoon, according to a nursing supervisor.
“I couldn’t get my foot on the brake pedal and I don’t know how it happened. I just couldn’t stop,” said Bachelder, who was shaking in the aftermath of the accident. He had a large cut on his hand that was bleeding.
Bachelder was driving a delivery truck for Quirk Auto Group, a Bangor car dealership, and was approaching the stop sign on Ward Hill Road when his shoelaces became snarled. He said he doesn’t know how he managed to stop after driving through the intersection, but he managed to slow down and turn around after hitting the truck.
Madison resident Francis Whittier, 76, and Wilma Carey, 86, of Winslow, saw the accident happen from Whittier’s home on the corner of Main Street and Old County Road.
The two were sitting at the kitchen table after a late breakfast when they heard a loud noise.
“I knew right away it was an accident. This is a bad intersection,” said Whittier. They watched the delivery truck come through the intersection and continue down the road while the pickup rolled over onto a snowbank, destroying Whittier’s mailbox in the process, said Whittier.
After picking up the phone to call 911, Whittier rushed outside and approached Bachelder, who had gotten out of the delivery truck.
“He was going about 30 miles per hour. I said, âWhat are you doing? You just ran a stop sign,’ and he said, âI couldn’t. My bootlaces got snarled up on the pedals,’ ” said Whittier. He said Bachelder had a fire extinguisher in his truck that he used to extinguish the flames on the pickup.
The couple also brought towels out to the two injured men to help stop their bleeding.
“I feel bad for everyone, even the man that hit them. It really hit hard though, I thought I heard an explosion,” said Carey.
Bachelder was issued a summons for failing to yield at a stop sign.
“I realize the circumstances were what they were. Any charges beyond that didn’t seem appropriate,” said Trask. He said that the four-way intersection — between Old County Road, Ward Hill Road, Main Street and White School House Road — has been the site of many accidents in the past. Whittier, who has lived on the corner since 1978, said he estimates there are about two or three per year.
The Ward Hill Road stop sign has blinking lights around it, which Trask said has helped to decrease the number of accidents.
“The way the roads line up, it can be hard to see the stop sign, although in this case he did see the stop sign but was prevented from braking,” said Trask.
Rachel Ohm— 612-2368[email protected]