SKOWHEGAN — A newborn baby boy was alive but in critical condition Tuesday, a day after being delivered by emergency Caesarean section because his nine-months-pregnant mother died en route to the hospital after an SUV crash.

Desiree Strout, 27, of Canaan, was driving toward Skowhegan on U.S. Route 2 when her 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer hit black ice just before 7 a.m. Monday on a stretch of road also known as Canaan Road, east of downtown Skowhegan, according to police Chief David Bucknam. Strout, already the mother of two girls, was on her way to the hospital to be medically induced into labor to give birth to her third child, a boy.

The baby — whom the family had named Gage Weeks — was in critical condition Monday at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan and was later transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where hospital officials declined to confirm any information about the baby to the news media.

Bucknam said later Tuesday afternoon that Gage was still listed in critical condition.

Harry Weeks, 29, Strout’s husband and a passenger in the truck that Strout was driving at the time of the accident, suffered a punctured lung and a laceration to his liver, according to Bucknam. He said Harry Weeks remains at the Bangor hospital, recovering from his injuries.

Bucknam said he didn’t know the condition of the 8-year-old girl, Strout’s oldest daughter, who also was in the truck, or whether she even was hospitalized.

Pamela Clark, at Clark’s Milk Transport in Canaan, where Weeks works, said she was visited by Weeks’ parents Monday night when they were coming back from EMMC and was told that the infant so far had survived the accident and the emergency surgery but was still in critical condition. Clark added that she was told Harry Weeks was alert and conscious.

“He was very tired and very sore,” she said of Weeks. “He just wanted to sleep. He had a cut on his forehead. I don’t know if he had a concussion or anything. He had a collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and some broken ribs.

“They did take him up to see his baby. The baby was on like a respirator. They didn’t know if it was deprived of oxygen when the accident happened.”

Clark said she knew Desiree, who would come down to her farm on Moores Mill Road in Canaan with her two little girls, who are ages 8 and 2.

“She was a good mom. She was home-schooling the oldest one,” Clark said. “The little girl was a smart little girl.”

Clark said the accident is another family tragedy to happen on Maine roads in the month of January. She said her husband, Canaan dairy farmer Richard “Butch” Clark, 70, was killed in a highway accident Jan. 14, 2017, as he was hauling milk along Interstate 295 in Freeport. A parade was held through downtown Canaan for Butch Clark’s funeral.

“It’s another tragedy this month. It’s sad. I’m just so sad.”

Bucknam said Strout lost control of the vehicle near the intersection of East Ridge Road, Eaton Mountain Road and U.S. Route 2. The vehicle hit a snowbank sideways at the edge of the road and rolled over, landing on the driver’s side on a frozen pond. No other vehicles were involved.

“It was not speed,” Bucknam said at his office Monday. “She just hit the black ice and lost control.”

Travis Weston, a relative of Strout, said the truck she was driving was “her baby, and she wouldn’t have let anyone drive it unless she had to.”

“Desiree was fiercely independent,” Weston said.

Earlier Tuesday, the chief said EMMC officials had not been cooperating with the police investigation, including by providing the condition of the newborn baby. The police chief said later in the day that hospital officials in Bangor had cooperated with investigating Officer CJ Viera.

He said emergency medical technicians from the Skowhegan hospital’s emergency medical services were attending to Strout in the ambulance en route to the hospital when she died. The baby was delivered by C-section at Redington-Fairview.

Tricia Denham, director of communications and marketing at Eastern Maine Medical Center, said the hospital will release no information about the condition of the infant or anyone else involved in Monday’s crash.

“The family of Desiree Strout requests respectful privacy so that they may focus on supporting one another through this incredibly difficult time,” Denham said in an email to the Morning Sentinel. “No additional statements, interviews, or information will be released to the media at this time.”

People posting on social media say there will be at least two fundraisers to help the family cope with expenses. A benefit dinner is planned for Sunday in St. Albans, while another is planned for Skowhegan, but the date and location have not been confirmed.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help cover funeral expenses.

“Our family is nothing if not strong and united,” the GoFuneMe page states. “When something happens to one of us, it happens to us all. With the loss of Desiree, Harry is going to need the time to recover and adjust to a life without his wife. It is for that reason we would like to help him by covering the cost of Desiree’s funeral, and helping as much as we can with their medical expenses.”

Strout’s friend Chelsey Anderson, who goes by the name Chels Ranee — her first and middle names — is organizing a fundraiser on Facebook.

“She was a great mom and wonderful friend,” Anderson wrote on her Facebook page, asking her friends for donations of auction items and food for a benefit dinner. “She left behind a husband, two daughters and a newborn son (whom she was on the way to have when this tragedy happened).

Later, in messages to the Morning Sentinel, Anderson said: “Desiree was an amazing person. A beautiful soul, always with a bright smile and a big heart.

“Desiree would go the extra mile for anyone and everyone. She has two beautiful daughters and was full of pride and joy to have her first baby boy. “Desiree and Harry shared a beautiful life full of love for each other and always cherished each other’s company.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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