SKOWHEGAN — Eighty-four-year-old Charles Atwood had a flashlight with him when he crossed U.S. Route 201 on Tuesday morning after getting his Morning Sentinel newspaper across from his house, but the driver of a commercial box truck didn’t see him until it was too late, police said Thursday.

It was still dark — just before 6 a.m. — and the road, also known as Waterville Road, was busy with people going to work and getting out of work, Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Thursday.

Atwood, who lived alone in the modest single-family house on the east side of the busy road, was struck by the truck and was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He died Wednesday afternoon at the hospital after a family member authorized suspension of life support, the chief said.

The other person hospitalized, Aaron Norton, 36, of Madison, was released Wednesday from Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Bucknam said. Norton was the driver of a sedan that also was hit by the box truck. He could not be reached for comment Thursday on the accident.

Michael Kelley, 67, of Clinton, the box truck driver, was treated locally and released from the hospital with minor injuries, Bucknam said.

The box truck, a Freightliner, was traveling north on Waterville Road when Kelley, the driver, tried to avoid striking Atwood, according to Bucknam.

“The truck swerved but was unable to avoid the pedestrian, striking him on the passenger side of the vehicle,” Bucknam said. “The driver of the big truck never saw him. He thinks he may have been walking at an angle because he didn’t even see the flashlight until it turned to him. At that point it was too late.”

Charles Douglas Atwood was born in Lexington, according to his obituary. He graduated from Central High School in New Portland and was a school bus driver for the town of New Portland before serving in the U. S. Army for two years during the Korean War. After his discharge, he returned to New Portland, where he drove a school bus and worked as a janitor. He married Clara Salisbury, of Canaan, in 1960 and joined the Maine State Police, beginning his career with Troop C. He then moved on to work with the truck weights division, junkyard detail, and for 15 years worked with the radio repair and communications division, spending his entire career in Somerset County. He retired in 1981 and became a self-employed lumberman, the obituary reads.

Bucknam said traffic on the Waterville Road “picks up” about 5 a.m. when the shifts change at the Sappi North America paper mill.

“I know, having worked overnights, that at 5 a.m. in the morning, the bridge here is just packed coming in off of Madison Avenue across the bridge to head up the Waterville Road,” he said. When the truck swerved, it struck a Chevrolet Aveo sedan, driven by Norton, traveling south on Waterville Road, according to Bucknam. The crash occurred about a mile north of the Sappi paper mill on Waterville Road.

Bucknam said criminal charges are not being considered. The investigation into the accident is ongoing, he said.

Bucknam said the box truck was registered to Kelley, the driver. He contracts with the U.S. Postal Service and was carrying mail.

Atwood’s wife died in October 2005, according to her obituary. Bucknam said Atwood’s daughter, Karen, has come to Skowhegan from North Carolina since she learned of the accident. She declined to comment on Thursday.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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