Erin Kaye is desperately trying to find the man she believes saved her life after her car crashed Oct. 10 on Interstate 295 southbound while she was on her way to work in Portland.

It was dark at 6:15 a.m., and Kaye, nearly seven months pregnant with her first child, was driving her Toyota Prius 65 to 75 mph across the Presumpscot River in Falmouth to her job at Standard Baking Co., where she is a baker.

Out of the dark, she saw a raccoon running toward her.

“I didn’t know it was a raccoon until it almost reached me,” Kaye, 35, of Durham, recalled. “I don’t know if it was because the road was frosty, but I lost control of my vehicle and ended up swerving across both lanes and smashed into the guardrail at a high rate of speed, and just as I hit the guardrail, I saw two giant headlights from a tractor-trailer. He swerved to avoid me and missed me by just feet.”

The truck driver pulled over and ran toward her. She drove her damaged car off the road.

“I was absolutely hysterical — all I could say to him was, ‘I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant.'”

She had had a very difficult time getting pregnant, so she was terrified, thinking the baby — a girl — was harmed.

The truck driver, who said his name was Scott, was very nice and tried to comfort her.

“He said, ‘It’s going to be fine,'” she recalled. “He was really calm and he held my hand. He called 911. He just sat with me and talked to me.”

When emergency crews arrived to attend to Kaye, they turned the trucker away, as he wasn’t involved in the accident, she said.

Before she knew it, he was gone and she never had a chance to properly thank him. Emergency workers determined her car, whose front bumper was smashed in, was drivable and told her she was free to go, she said.

She drove to MaineMedical Center in Portland, where she was admitted and remained there overnight.

“I was completely in shock. I didn’t even remember how I got to Maine Med. There was an abruption in my placenta, so my placenta tore away from my uterine wall a little bit. They kept us overnight and on a continuous fetal monitor, and everything is fine.”

She is relieved to be OK, but both she and her husband are anxious to find Scott, the truck driver.

“My husband, Clint, said, ‘I have to give this man a hug.’ He gets choked up. He said, ‘I have to find this man.'”

Kaye firmly believes that it was the trucker’s experience — 30 years driving truck — that prompted him to take just the right action to avoid hitting her car during the accident.

“He said he started to step on the brake,'” she recalled. “He said, ‘I had to make a decision to slam on the brake or gun it. I made the decision to gun it and swerve by you.’ If he hadn’t done that, I would have been smashed like a bug. I completely credit him for saving my life. If he hadn’t reacted the way he did, it would have been so much worse. My husband said, ‘Your whole life could have turned in one second.'”

As the trucker talked to her while waiting for police and emergency crews to arrive, she learned a few things about him and hopes anyone who knows him might read this and recognize him.

“In the time we had together, as people are flying past us on the highway at 6:15 a.m., I was able to get out of him that he was delivering flooring. He was on a delivery run down south. I don’t know what ‘south’ meant, and he said he was coming from either Augusta or Auburn. Augusta is the first thing that pops into my mind.'”

His tractor-trailer was white and the advertisement on the back featured a pair of women’s legs in high heels, but Kaye does not remember the name of the company.

“I think he was probably in his 50s. I think he has a daughter who lives with him, and his 10-month-old grand-baby. He said, ‘I totally understand why you’re frightened. It’s going to be fine. I have a 10-month-old.'”

The trucker was of medium height and build, had relatively short, brownish hair, a mustache and possibly a beard, and was wearing a light-colored flannel shirt, according to Kaye.

“His name was Scott, and I think his last name started with an ‘L.’ I don’t know why I think that.”

Kaye called around to some flooring places in Augusta to try to find him, but came up empty-handed, she said.

She and her husband are consumed with the desire to thank him, especially since they feel so blessed to be having a baby in two months and they had a very hard time conceiving.

Kaye said she can’t begin to express how good the trucker was to her and what his deed meant to her and her family.

“It takes a special kind of person to stop and be kind and compassionate, and this man didn’t have to do that, but he did.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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