Police work at the scene of Tuesday’s crash in Casco. Two women in one vehicle died and another driver remains in critical condition.

The mother and daughter from Bridgton who were killed Tuesday in a horrific crash on Route 302 in Casco were returning from a dentist appointment when their car crossed the centerline and struck another vehicle head-on, but there was no word from police on why the car veered into oncoming traffic, a relative said Friday.

Jamie Mantz, 53, was driving her mother, Carol Strom, 80, home from the appointment when Mantz’s Jeep Liberty collided with an oncoming SUV, said Karen Kelson of Turner, Mantz’s sister and Strom’s daughter.

Mantz had moved in with Strom about eight years ago after Strom’s husband died, and in recent months, Mantz functioned as Strom’s primary caregiver after Strom suffered a severe stroke in January.

“She finally came home in May and still had left-sided deficits and was having physical therapy at home,” Kelson said. “She was regaining her independence. Jamie was there for her all that time, taking her to doctor appointments, taking her shopping and to therapy. They were together, side by side.”

Retirement brought Strom to Maine, where she lived in a year-round home on Long Lake with her husband, Stanley G. Strom, until his death in 2010. The home was built on the site of a family camp. They were married for 54 years.

Kelson said Mantz moved in with their mother a short time after that, and had been living with her in Bridgton ever since.

The other driver, Austin J. Wood, 26, of Naples, was listed in critical condition Friday night at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Blood tests have been ordered for both drivers, in line with a statewide policy to test for alcohol in drivers in all fatal crashes, according to a preliminary crash report. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, and there was no word Friday night on the progress of the investigation. Both drivers had recently lost and regained their licenses, according to state records.

Mantz was charged with operating under the influence in Oxford County in May 2016 and was convicted a short time later, according to a state driving record.

Mantz’s license was initially suspended until December 2016, but it appears to have been suspended again because she did not complete a state-mandated driver re-education course. Her license was most recently reinstated in March. She had no other listed driving infractions since then.

Kelson said she did not suspect that alcohol was involved in the crash.

“She’s been adamant about how (she) needed to be responsible for (Strom),” Kelson said. “She took really good care of my mother.”

Mantz had been working at a restaurant in the area, and Kelson said she and her husband visited Mantz and Strom frequently, often spending holidays at the Bridgton home.

Kelson said she will always remember how outgoing and service-oriented her mother was. Before her stroke, Kelson said, Strom drove friends and church associates to appointments and helped people do their shopping or get around.

She remained active in a variety of groups through Saint Joseph and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Church in Bridgton, including the Lazarus Society, which helped plan and arrange the funerals held at the church.

“My mother was very busy helping other people,” Kelson said.

Wood’s driving history also showed he recently lost and then regained his right to drive.

Following a driving-to-endanger charge in June 2017, Wood’s license was suspended and then reinstated in February. He had no other driving infractions since then.

Before Strom moved to Maine, she and her husband raised their family in Medfield, Massachusetts.

Mantz attended local schools there, went on to work in ophthalmology, and raised three boys and a girl, who now range in age from high school to adulthood, Kelson said. Mantz divorced from her ex-husband about 10 years ago, Kelson said.

Wood’s family, meanwhile, released a message of thanks to the community for their support, according to News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ).

“His family wants to thank first responders from Casco, Naples, Raymond and Cumberland County for their efforts,” the family said. “We are grateful for our family, friends and community who continue to send support and prayers. We remain hopeful for his recovery.”

Visiting hours for Mantz and Strom are scheduled for Monday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Chandler Funeral Home in Bridgton. A memorial Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Interment will be private at a later date at Vine Lake Cemetery in Medfield.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

filed under: