ATHENS — The driver of a tractor-trailer loaded with wood chips and sawdust bound for a local pellet mill escaped injury early Wednesday when his truck crossed the centerline, plowed into a ditch on the opposite side of the road and rolled onto its side, authorities said.

The crash, involving a truck owned by Chaffee Transportation, of Clinton, happened around 4:45 a.m. on Route 150 in Athens, just north of the Cornville town line.

“The driver was complaining of bruising, but he was OK,” Athens Fire Chief Brett Strout said at the scene, as two large tow trucks were readied to right the rig. “He claimed he fell asleep and woke up in the ditch.”

The driver, Bruce Paul, 50, of Clinton, was not injured but was taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution, according to James Ross, chief deputy at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Paul was issued a summons to appear in court on a charge of failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle, a traffic infraction punishable by a fine.

Strout said the truck appeared to be destroyed. He said the truck was on its way to the Maine Woods Pellet Co. plant farther up Route 150 on what also is known as Harmony Road.


Strout said the driver was coming from Irving Forestry Products in Dixfield. The local mill makes wood pellets out of the chips and sawdust.

The sawdust was removed by heavy equipment at the edge of the woods on the southbound side of Route 150, while a heavy tow truck with a boom prepared to right the truck with attached cables.

T&W Garage, of Newport, removed the tractor-trailer from the scene, Ross said. A Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement unit also went there to assist the Athens Fire Department with the crash.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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