PALMYRA — A little after 2 p.m. Sunday, Jessica Robinson heard a loud thump outside her house on Raymond Road. Then she heard her mother-in-law’s address on the police scanner.

She drove the short distance to the house and had just found she was OK when she saw a commotion outside.

A car was in the trees lining the cow pasture across the road, its rear wheels up in the air against a stand of birches.

Aimee Lasco, 29, of Hartland — a friend of Robinson’s — was inside, dead.

A passerby who’d stopped to help told Robinson three little girls had been in the backseat of the car when it crashed and had climbed out of the wreck and wandered about a half-mile up the road.

Robinson rushed to where Lasco’s children were and checked out their injuries, asked them their names, told them she knew Lasco and did the best she could to comfort them until emergency crews arrived. The children, Ryleigh, 7, and Ava, 4, and friend Isabella Morse, 5, suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Ryleigh told Robinson, “I tried to wake Mama up and Mama said I’m tired and she couldn’t wake up,” Robinson recalled at the scene of the crash Monday. “She said, ‘I know Mama’s dead.'”

Robinson, 44, standing at the crash site Monday with Morse’s grandmother, Teanda Smith, 48, of St. Albans, recalled the previous day’s events and also what a good mother their friend Lasco was.

The two women had met moments earlier, but both had been friends for many years with Lasco, a 2004 graduate of Nokomis Regional High School in Newport.

Smith and Robinson said Lasco and the children had attended a birthday party at Palmyra Community Center on U.S. Route 2 before the crash, but no one knows why she was driving on Raymond Road afterward, which isn’t the direct route back to Hartland.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Monday that Lasco’s car went off the road Sunday and struck a tree about 2:05 p.m. She was not wearing a seatbelt. McCausland didn’t have any more details of the accident or its cause Monday morning.

Ryleigh told Robinson that just before the crash “it got really bumpy and Mommy couldn’t stop.”

Robinson pointed to a swathe of flattened grass where Lasco’s car apparently left the road before striking the tree. The speed limit on the newly paved stretch of Raymond Road is 35 mph, but people drive really fast there, she said.

It is an idyllic spot, where large rocks and trees litter a cow pasture along a hill owned by the Robinson family.

‘MOMMY COULDN’T STOP’

Robinson knew how to approach the shocked children. She had worked 18 years with mentally challenged adults, is trained in first aid and has some medical knowledge, she said.

She said Ryleigh had a bruised and swollen arm, Isabella had a bruise on her chest and Ava had two large bumps on her forehead.

“The kids were very, very shaken up, but very, very brave children,” she said. “I was with the kids probably a good five minutes, if that. I asked Ryleigh, ‘Who told you your mama is dead?’ She said, ‘I know she’s dead — I checked her.’

“The three little girls were the bravest young girls I have ever, ever seen. It was easy to calm them down and for me to get information. Ryleigh was very worried about her mother, but very helpful. She was very motherly to the other children.”

The children were taken to Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield after the accident, and Ryleigh was then taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for observation overnight.

Smith said Ryleigh had a bruised lung and bladder and a slight fracture of the sternum.

As Smith and Robinson spoke Monday, Hartland firefighter Weston Gould drove up to the scene in his pickup truck. Gould said the Hartland and Palmyra fire departments responded to Sunday’s accident. Robinson said her husband, Randy, also was one of the first to arrive.

Gould said he was asked Sunday night if it was very difficult coming upon a scene in which someone he knows has died.

“The only answer I have is, don’t you want somebody when you need them? We work in the community we serve. We serve the people we know, so it makes it very hard to go to a call and expect not to know them. We all know each other in the community. Sometimes it helps because we are familiar, you know?”

Robinson said the scene looked much different on Sunday just after the crash, where a large tree next to the road bore a large scrape, branches of other trees were broken and debris lay everywhere. She straightened up the disarray after police left the scene.

“The car ripped these rocks out of the ground,” she said, motioning to the pasture. “I found pieces of wire fence on those trees over there. Some of the wires were up in the trees. My fence post was up in the road.”

‘SHE LOVED THEM VERY, VERY MUCH’

Smith described Lasco as tall, slender and beautiful, and said she was good friends with her own two daughters as they were growing up and remained a good friend.

“She was always up at my house,” Smith said. “She was bubbly and full of energy and you would just know, when she talked to her kids, that she loved them very, very much. She would hug and kiss them. She loved to play with those kids.”

Robinson said she had known Lasco since she was a little girl.

“We used to go get her up for hunting season,” she said. “She liked the outdoors.”

Smith said Lasco, who lived in Pittsfield and Palmyra while growing up, had an amazing amount of energy.

“When she was little, she came over to spend the weekend,” she said. “Her mother was a neat freak and she was a neat freak and she’d say to my daughter, ‘Let’s get up and make your mom breakfast and clean the whole house.'”

She said Lasco also was talented and once sang a solo at a band concert and had a lovely voice.

Gould said Lasco used to work for him at Double Diamond Co., a landscaping business in Hartland.

“She was a darned good worker — she’d work the guys two-to-one, easy,” he said.

Smith said that Lasco had had a rough couple of years because people close to her had died.

“Her stepdad died last year, and her boyfriend died the year before,” she said. “She found (her boyfriend) on the couch. I can remember her coming over to my daughter’s house after he died. Aimee had a very hard time sleeping. And then she lost her stepdad, who had raised her.” She said Lasco and her stepfather were “really close.”

After the accident, Smith went to the hospital to be with the children, and Ryleigh’s father, Doug Dumont, was also there.

Ryleigh was then taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where she stayed overnight for observation. Dumont spent the night with her, Smith said.

“She didn’t want him to leave her.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17