WATERVILLE — More than 15 traffic accidents littered snow-covered Interstate 95 on Saturday afternoon from Waterville to Newport, including a rollover crash that injured a driver near Pittsfield and another accident that injured a child, state police said.

The accidents included a dozen cars sliding off the highway’s southbound lanes near the Kennedy Memorial Drive interchange in Waterville, according to a news release from state police Sgt. Peter Michaud.

With help from Waterville and Oakland police, state police shut down the interstate and summoned a Maine Department of Transportation crew to clear snow off the road, then limited traffic to one lane while wreckers towed away vehicles from both sides of the highway.

The chaos in Waterville began when two vehicles simultaneously went off the road in the expressway’s southbound lanes near mile marker 125, coming to a stop in the median strip and the breakdown lane, according to Waterville Fire Rescue Capt. Rodney Alderman. While the department’s emergency responders worked to slow traffic, other drivers’ sudden braking before the crash site apparently caused a 10-vehicle accident just north of it, he said.

Waterville police said several other vehicles were involved in accidents in the same area, including some in I-95’s northbound lanes.

State police attributed all the I-95 crashes to “drivers traveling too fast for conditions, following too closely, and external distractions from outside the vehicle,” Michaud said in his release. In Waterville, he said, drivers put troopers, a game warden, emergency responders and others at risk by failing to reduce their speed when they approached the accident scene, even though the flashing lights of emergency vehicles were clearly visible.

In the Pittsfield accident, the vehicle rolled over several times and hit a tree, Michaud said. The driver, whose name was not released, was taken to a nearby hospital. The injured child also was taken to a hospital, but no information about the child’s injuries or condition was available.

In southern Maine, a Kennebunk police officer was injured as he was closing a road that had become dangerous because of snow blowing across it. Police said the officer’s cruiser was hit on the driver’s side by a pickup truck.

The officer was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

Maine Sunday Telegram staff writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

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