SKOWHEGAN — A Canaan woman was killed Thursday morning in a two-car, head-on collision on U.S. Route 2 near the Great Eddy of the Kennebec River.

Police said Dawn Poplawski, 59, was pronounced dead at Redington-Fairview General Hospital after her 2009 Chevy Malibu sedan collided with an SUV just before 10 a.m. The accident happened near the junction of Parkman Hill Road.

Police Chief Michael Emmons said John Patterson, 66, of Dr. Mann Road, was driving eastbound on U.S. Route 2, also known as Canaan Road, when his 1999 Mercury Mountaineer apparently drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic.

Poplawski was traveling west toward downtown, when Patterson’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck her car head-on. Poplawski’s car was forced into the guardrail above the river’s edge and came to rest facing in the opposite direction she had been traveling.

Poplawski was pinned inside the car. Emergency personnel from the Skowhegan Fire Department and the hospital’s emergency medical services had to cut her from the wreckage using hydraulic extraction tools.

The front end of the car was crushed into the driver’s and passenger section of the vehicle. She had been alone in the car.

Patterson also was trapped inside his vehicle and emergency workers had to pry open the driver’s side door to get him out. He also was alone in the vehicle. He was taken to the Skowhegan hospital for injuries to his right leg.

Michele Corson, a close friend of Patterson who was at the scene, said Patterson is a disabled combat veteran whose right leg was badly damaged in Vietnam. She said the sun may have blinded him as he approached the dry, straight stretch of road along the river Thursday morning.

Both vehicles were destroyed, and debris, fluids and shattered glass covered the road, which was closed to traffic in both directions for more than an hour. Vehicles were rerouted over Parkman Hill to avoid the accident scene.

Emmons said it appears Poplawski tried to swerve to avoid Patterson’s vehicle, forcing impact to the right front, passenger side of her car. It appeared the bulk of the impact also was on the passenger side of Patterson’s vehicle, he said.

Maine State Police are reconstructing and forensically mapping the accident for additional details, such as how fast each vehicle was going. Blood tests for the presence of drugs and alcohol were done as a matter of routine on both Poplawski and Patterson, Emmons said.

Assistant District Attorney Brent Davis also was called to the scene, as is routine in a serious or fatal accident, Emmons said. Police officer Timothy Williams is the primary investigator into the cause of the crash.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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