JACKMAN — A 5-year-old boy was killed early Tuesday when a tractor-trailer truck crashed near his home, spilling a full load of logs through the home’s first floor.

The boy, Liam Mahaney, would have started kindergarten in the fall. Rescue workers said he was likely killed instantly as he lay sleeping on the downstairs couch.

The truck driver, Christian Cloutier, 57, of Quebec, said he fell asleep at the wheel as he was driving south on U.S. Route 201, according to Detective Lt. Carl Gottardi, with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s devastating to a small, close-knit community like Jackman,” Town Manager Kathy MacKenzie said. “This is what you see on TV other places. You don’t expect to see an accident that horrific in your town. … It’s just a real cruel twist of fate. There were so many other ways the logs could have shifted.”

Cloutier, who was driving an approximately 100,000-pound 2011 Peterbilt truck owned by DAN Express in Quebec, crashed through two telephone poles and flipped on its side next to the house at 510 Main St., Gottardi said.

The home is owned by the boy’s parents; his father, Gary Mahaney, is a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The tree-length logs spilled through the west wall of the home, filling and demolishing the downstairs, causing the second story to collapse to ground level. The home is destroyed, Gottardi said, and will be torn down.

At the time of the crash, around 2:30 a.m., one adult and two children were on the first floor, and another adult and two children were on the second floor, Gottardi said. He declined to identify the mother, the other children or their ages.

All the surviving family members were taken to Jackman Region Health Center with minor injuries, except for the mother. She was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan, reportedly with a broken pelvis, said Shelbe Fuller, a public affairs specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The driver, Cloutier, was taken from Jackman Region Health Center to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor with non-life-threatening injuries, Gottardi said. The truck sustained heavy damage and was impounded for further inspection.

When Jackman-Moose River Fire Chief Bill Jarvis first pulled up to the scene, Border Patrol agents had already arrived and were searching for people in the home. Two utility poles were broken, and wires were in the street. The mother and one child were sitting outside. The father, Gary Mahaney, said, “Get a ladder, there are still three kids in the house,” Jarvis recalled.

Two Border Patrol agents managed to carry two children out, and the father said one was still inside, on the couch downstairs, Jarvis said.

“As soon as he said that, oh, that was the worst feeling,” Jarvis said.

It took rescue workers about two hours to find Liam Mahaney and about seven hours to remove him from the home, officials said. They inflated special bags to move the logs.

“I’ve seen bad accidents, but I’ve never seen one in a building,” Jarvis said. “This one’s a child. … This is pretty traumatic.”

The crash sheared the valves off a propane tank, spilling the flammable liquid. With the possibility of sparks from downed wires, Jarvis said he ordered the electricity be cut. Also, both lanes of U.S. Route 201 were closed until daylight.

The entire town lost power for several hours and a mile and a half of the central part of town, including several stores, went without power for more than 12 hours.

The downed power lines also made it difficult for rescue crews to clean up the scene. Once Central Maine Power Co. and FairPoint Communications were able to restore the lines, a crew towed away the truck and removed some of the logs from the home.

The entire process took more than 14 hours.

Crews then worked to clear debris and were still at the scene at 6 p.m.

All the while, workers watched for any movement of the house, which was at risk of falling on them, said Deputy Michael Ross, with the sheriff’s office.

Alan Duplessis lives across from the Mahaney family and when he saw sparks outside, he initially thought his house had been struck by lightning. He later realized the sparks came from a transformer when the truck knocked down the utility poles.

He ran across the road at the same time the Border Patrol agents arrived, he said, and his wife, Anne, stayed with the Mahaney family’s children.

Anne Duplessis, a first grade teacher at Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman, said she was “amazed at how strong they were,” referring to the family. The father, running around barefoot, never gave up looking for his son, she said.

Mountain Country Supermarket and Bishop’s Store donated food and drinks for rescue workers, Alan and Anne Duplessis said. By the afternoon, the stores had donation cans on their counters for the Mahaney family.

Alan Duplessis said the crash will likely make the community stronger. “Every time we have one of these events we rally out of it,” he said.

Celine Cloutier said she has lived in Jackman for 34 years and has never seen such a bad crash in the populated area of town. She was one of many residents who came to the scene to watch rescue crews.

“It’s been a long and tiring day, and I hope nothing like this happens again for a long time,” said firefighter Darryl Griffin, of Jackman.

Denise Plante, principal and assistant superintendent at Forest Hills Consolidated School, said she has alerted teachers and staff of what she described as a tragedy.

“Like the rest of this small community, they’re rallying around the needs of the family and wanting to know what they can do to help,” she said.

John Beauchamp, the school’s guidance social worker, will be available for anyone in the community who needs to talk to someone, Plante said. People may arrange an appointment by calling 668-5291.

Fuller, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said border patrol agents would be helping the family however they could. The Red Cross was also available.

“It’s more than just a colleague. We’re a very close-knit family, if you will,” she said.

In addition to border patrol and customs agents, the sheriff’s office and Jackman-Moose River fire, West Forks Fire Department, Maine State Police, Jackman ambulance service and medical personnel from Charles A. Dean Memorial in Greenville also responded.

The crash will be reviewed by the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges will be filed, Gottardi said. It appears that speed was a factor in the crash, “but the extent of such will not be known until the entire investigation is completed,” he said.

The family was not available for comment.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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