Some details of the deadly crash on Route 17 are etched in Tracy Morgan’s memory: the split-second decision to evade flying lumber, bumping through a nearby field, not stepping on the brakes.

Others are less clear: Were there vehicles behind the Freightliner truck hauling a load of lumber? What color was the truck? Were other vehicles behind her, other than the minivan?

Five days after the crash, Morgan, the only driver involved in the five-vehicle wreck who was not sent to a hospital for treatment, is still piecing it all together.

She was heading east around 5 p.m. Friday on Route 17 to Washington from Augusta on the way to pick up her kids at day care.

“It was a regular day for me,” she said.

Morgan, of Washington, who had turned 33 the day before, was talking on her mobile phone to her husband, Joshua, who was about 10 minutes behind her on Route 17. She was in the flow of traffic, third in a group of four vehicles, going 50 to 55 mph. She was just east of the Knox County line and about to reach the curve in the road, which she described as a fast corner near Fitch Road.

Heading west toward her was a Freightliner hauling a load of lumber.

“We were coming up on it, and I saw the wood flying off the back of the truck. I made a run for it — straight into the field,” she said.

It was a snap decision and there was no time to second-guess.

“For whatever reason, I definitely remember being able to think very quickly. My initial thought was to get out of the way. I knew the field was there and I was thinking, ‘Drive to the open spot and get yourself to safety.’ There was no braking involved.”

Morgan said all the vehicles were trying to reach the field. Although she doesn’t recall whether she struck the vehicle in front of her or it struck hers, she knows her car was hit. In its initial news release, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said the vehicle in front of her rolled, striking hers.

“My husband heard the whole thing. When I stopped, I immediately picked up the phone and said, ‘I’m OK. Here’s my location. Call 911.'”

When he did, the accident already had been reported, she said. Within minutes, emergency crews were at the scene.

What they found was the Freightliner on its roof and four vehicles in the field. Paul Fowles, 74, of Owls Head, in the first vehicle, was declared dead at the scene. Authorities released his identity Saturday.

Tracy Cook, 51, of Union, the driver of the second vehicle, was taken to MaineGeneral Health Center in Augusta, where she was treated and released over the weekend.

The fourth vehicle apparently struck by the trailer and the lumber burst into flames with the driver inside. That vehicle’s driver is presumed by authorities to be Christina Torres-York, 45, of Warren, officials said Tuesday. They have not made an official identification.

Although the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not completed its investigation, friends and family of the Warren woman, including a woman identified as her aunt, have taken to social media to mourn her loss.

Police say the investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing and an accident reconstruction is underway.

The accident sent the tractor-trailer’s driver and passenger, Randall Weddle and Lowell Babb, to area hospitals. They have been treated and released.

Morgan said she has prayed that the people involved in the crash would be able to not remember everything.

“It was seconds between when it started and when it ended. I haven’t brought myself to the point of asking.”

While her vehicle has yet to be released, Morgan has not let that stop her from driving.

“I have to drive. That’s my piece of control in all of this. I have to drive,” she said.

Morgan said she knows she’ll have constant reminders, because she drives that stretch of Route 17 every day, and she already has been through that stretch a couple of times again.

“For myself, I never thought I would experience this. I only expected I would see something like this in the movies, not in real life. It was very real.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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