The driver of a pickup truck died after going off snow-covered Temple Road on Wednesday afternoon in East Wilton, the most serious of dozens of accidents as morning snow turned to freezing rain and rain in central Maine.

Accidents were reported on Interstate 95 from Sidney to areas north of there, as well as back roads throughout the region, beginning shortly after noon, when snow throughout the morning in Somerset, Franklin and northern Kennebec counties turned to freezing rain, then rain.

The snow-covered road and speed were believed to be factors in the fatal accident reported at 12:15 p.m. on Temple Road, Wilton police Chief Heidi Wilcox said Wednesday night.

The driver, Gale Waycott, 62, of East Dixfield, was not wearing a seat belt, she said. The pickup overturned after going off the road and hitting a tree near the intersection of Orchard Drive in East Wilton.

The driver was trapped and had to be extricated, according to reports at the time of the accident.

Wilton and Farmington’s fire and rescue departments and NorthStar Ambulance were at the scene.

A dispatcher for the Maine Department of Public Safety in Augusta said that while a handful of accidents were reported on Interstate 95 as morning snow turned into freezing rain and then rain, there were more reports on area back roads. While the Augusta area got a dusting of snow that turned to rain mid-morning, areas north of Augusta, such as Belgrade and Waterville, had snow, at times heavy during the morning, which coated roads and sidewalks. The snow was followed by freezing rain around noontime as the temperature hovered around freezing, then rain when the temperature began to rise.

Michael Smith, emergency management director for Somerset County, also said that the accidents were spread throughout the county and occurred mostly on back roads and roads “less traveled.” By late afternoon, he said the county had about 20 accidents. Those reports were still continuing into the evening. He said it wasn’t clear if all of them were weather-related.

“They were mostly slip and slides, though there were a couple of rollovers,” Smith said.

“I know (public works crews) have been taking care of them,” Smith said of the roads. “I haven’t heard the roads are terribly bad, but I do think the changeover, when we hit the point of transition from snow to rain, created some slush on the road.”

On Lakewood Road in Madison, a person was taken to the hospital following a report of an accident at 11:52 a.m., according to the Somerset radio log. No further information was available.

Slip-and-slide accidents continued into the evening Wednesday in Somerset County. Crashes without injuries were investigated in Madison and on River Road in Norridgewock just before 6 p.m.

Cpl. David Cole, of the sheriff’s office, said there were a total of eight crashes in Somerset County — five in Madison, two in Hartland and the one in Norridgewock.

“There was no serious accidents today,” Cole said.

Cole added that the accident on Lakewood Road, which is also U.S. Route 201, Wednesday morning was a rollover in which a 58-year-old man was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police and wreckers were busy with nearly a half-dozen accidents on the interstate in the Waterville area around 1 p.m. Conditions were expected to improve by Wednesday evening and no weather problems were expected for Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

In Sidney, a northbound Saturn Vue hydroplaned off Interstate 95 around 12:30 p.m. just before the Town Farm Road overpass. No injuries were reported.

A little farther north on the interstate in Waterville a car veered off the road and into a ditch in the median strip around the same time.

Reports of accidents in the Skowhegan/Madison area started coming in around 11 a.m. with poor conditions reported on Norridgewock Road and Middle Road in Fairfield, East River Road in Skowhegan and White School House Road and Lakewood Road in Madison later in the afternoon.

“Watch out for the plow trucks, watch out for the tow trucks, and watch out for all of the public safety folks on the roads,” the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department posted on its Facebook page. “Slow down, take your time, don’t panic, get to where you’re going safely.”

Cars were also reported off the road in Farmington and Fairfield as morning snow changed to rain and the temperature hovered around freezing in mid-afternoon.

Augusta police reported no accidents Wednesday afternoon.

Chris Kimble, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray, said the temperature is expected to stay above freezing into early Thursday and that ice on the roads should not be a problem Thursday.

Wednesday’s warm temperature and rain are not unusual for this time of year, Kimble said.

“It happens from time to time,” he said. “We get storms that come up the coast all the time, and whether they result in rain or snow depends on whether they track offshore or whether they come closer to the coast. This one is actually tracking to our north, which is why we saw some warmer air.”

This story has been updated from an earlier version. 

Staff writer Lauren Abbate contributed to this report.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

 


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