MONMOUTH — A man is dead and a woman seriously injured after a head-on crash Friday morning in front of TJ’s Place on U.S. Route 202.
Kenneth Rucker, 48, of Sabattus, died at the scene.
Denise Glidden, 33, of Augusta, was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where she was in critical condition with broken bones and internal injuries, said Monmouth Police Officer Dana Wessling.
There were no other passengers in either vehicle.
Rucker is the third person killed in a crash on the stretch of road between Leeds and Manchester since March.
The investigation is ongoing, but it appears Rucker, who was driving a 2001 Lincoln Town Car, was speeding, Wessling said.
“Witnesses are saying the vehicle was passing multiple vehicles at once and traveling at a high rate of speed,” Wessling said.
The impact occurred shortly after 9:30 a.m., just as Glidden’s 2001 Dodge Caravan finished rounding a curve. The Lincoln crossed the center line heading into the curve where the broken yellow line turned solid, indicating it is illegal to pass.
“He passed two or three cars and was going at a very high rate of speed and hit that lady head on,” restaurant owner Thomas Quinn said.
The impact forced the Lincoln, which was headed east, down an embankment off the eastbound lane about 50 feet from the point of impact. Glidden’s van spun around and came to a rest off the westbound breakdown lane about 150 feet away.
The crash left a large debris field that stretched for about 200 feet. Part of that debris included vehicle framing apparently dislodged from the van that came to rest in the road about 50 feet away from the van.
“When I heard the bang, I looked out and there was just an explosion of dust, glass and debris,” said Tom Alward, of Readfield, who was having coffee at a window table inside TJ’s when the crash occurred.
Glidden’s van was equipped with a child seat and responders initially feared a child had been ejected, but Monmouth Police Chief Kevin Mulherin said Glidden’s husband arrived at the crash scene to confirm the child was safe.
Glidden was quickly removed from the wreckage and taken to the hospital, but it took crews about an hour to free Rucker.
“He was badly trapped,” Alward said. “He couldn’t budge an inch.”
Alward said Rucker was at least semi-conscious and talking moments after the crash.
“TJ was talking to him,” Alward said.
A LifeFlight helicopter landed in TJ’s parking lot shortly before Rucker was freed. Firefighters, Winthrop Ambulance and LifeFlight crews spent several minutes performing CPR and administering other treatment to try and revive Rucker. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful.
The section of Route 202 was closed until just after 2 p.m. as state police reconstructed the crash. Westbound traffic was diverted onto Cross Road in Monmouth, and eastbound vehicles were turned onto Annabessacook Road.
The crash remains under investigation.
There have been a number of serious and fatal crashes on Route 202 between Leeds and Monmouth in recent years. The Maine Department of Transportation is planning to add center line rumble strips in Winthrop, and perhaps Monmouth, to help alert drivers who drive into the oncoming lane. Quinn said there have been a few crashes in front of his restaurant in the six years he has owned it, but Friday’s was the first fatality.
“It’s a bad road,” Alward said. “It’s really sad.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642