A former longtime Waldoboro resident and ex-middle school secretary was identified Sunday as the victim of a fatal car crash in the Lincoln County town.

Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said that Melissa Sawyer, 48, who moved to Damariscotta about a year ago, died in the crash, which was discovered early Sunday at the intersection of Routes 1 and 32.

A passing motorist notified police just before 7 a.m. that a partially submerged motor vehicle – lying on its roof – was visible in the Medomak River near the Hannaford supermarket.

The intersection of Route 1 and Route 32 in Waldoboro begins to be cleared after the removal of a vehicle that was discovered upside down in the Medomak River early Sunday. The single occupant died in the crash. Staff photo by Beth A. Birmingham

Labombarde said Sawyer’s Jeep Cherokee appears to have gone over a guardrail before coming down into the river, which flows through downtown Waldoboro.

The chief said it appears her SUV was headed south on Route 1 before she lost control and hit the guardrail. The cause of the accident remains under investigation,

“I know what happened, but not when it happened,” Labombarde said in a telephone interview Sunday evening.

Sawyer was last seen around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, but police are not sure where she went after that or when her vehicle went into the river.

Authorities were notified at 6:56 a.m. that there was a vehicle in the river, and a diver confirmed that there was deceased person inside. Police used a crane to lift the SUV out of the river.

Sawyer’s Jeep was then taken to the Waldoboro Fire Station, where firefighters extricated her from the vehicle. Labombarde said the state medical examiner’s office was notified, but he is not sure if an autopsy will be performed. Sawyer’s body was transferred to the Hall Funeral Home in Waldoboro.

A vehicle autopsy will also be conducted. Using the Jeep’s black box – assuming it was not damaged by the water – will allow police to determine her speed and the time of the impact, Labombarde said.

“Everyone in Waldoboro knew Melissa,” the chief said, adding that she was very well liked in the community. “She worked as the middle school secretary for years.”

Labombarde said he got to know Sawyer because the police department does a lot of work in the local schools.

Sawyer was the mother of two children, according to the chief.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is working with Waldoboro police to reconstruct the crash.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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