State trooper sustains injuries after truck fails to move over

A truck driver from New York has been charged after his tractor-trailer on Thursday slammed into the cruiser of a Maine State Police trooper who had been assisting another driver on Interstate 295 in Richmond.

Trooper Greg Stevens was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment of injuries that are not considered life-threatening, including broken ribs and neck and leg injuries, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Stevens, a 17-year state police veteran, was able to walk away from the crash.

Gusan Yedic, 56, of Yorktown Heights, New York, was issued a summons charging him with failing to move over for an emergency vehicle after his tractor-trailer hit Stevens’ sport utility vehicle as it was in the breakdown lane with its blue lights flashing, McCausland said.

The crash occurred around 9:45 a.m. near mile 46 after Stevens had checked on another tractor-trailer that had been stopped along the road. The tractor-trailer had merged back into traffic just before Yedic’s truck plowed into Stevens’ cruiser, McCausland said. The impact destroyed Stevens’ cruiser, a 2015 Ford SUV.

“The cruiser was struck from behind,” McCausland said. “The trooper’s SUV had been in the breakdown lane just prior to the collision.”

Yedic was not injured.

The move-over law, passed in 2007, requires drivers passing a parked emergency vehicle using emergency lights to move over into a non-adjacent lane farthest away from the emergency vehicle regardless of the weather. On the interstate that means moving from the driving lane on the right to the passing lane on the left.

Stevens’ troop commander, Lt. Aaron Hayden, said in 2013 that in the previous three years 24 cruisers had been hit from behind while their emergency lights were flashing. Those crashes left 12 troopers injured.

Both northbound lanes were closed for nearly two hours at mile 41 after Thursday’s crash. One lane reopened around 11:30 a.m. Both lanes had reopened by 3 p.m., according to Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation.

Officials urged drivers to detour onto U.S. Route 201 to avoid the crash site as northbound traffic backed up for several miles after the crash.

The tractor-trailer came to rest in the median strip and was reportedly fully engulfed in flames. The fire was knocked down within an hour, but there was a lengthy cleanup, including a large diesel fuel slick that spilled across the road after the crash. The fire briefly spread to the grass in the median before firefighters doused the flames.

A team of troopers, as well as firefighters and medics from Gardiner, were called to the crash scene. The first group to arrive quickly asked for more help to put out the burning tractor-trailer and direct traffic.

The tractor-trailer, which was destroyed, is owned by Yamamoto Carrier Inc., an Illinois-based company. The truck was empty at the time of the crash.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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