WINSLOW — Four people were taken to hospitals Friday morning after a destructive two-vehicle crash on Route 137 at the intersection of North and South Reynolds roads that initially left occupants and animals trapped inside demolished vehicles, shut down the road for two hours and showered the area with wreckage and personal items.

Neighbors said the crash highlights how the intersection is an accident-prone area and said a blinking light or other safety measure should be installed.

At the scene of the crash, reported at 10:13 a.m., emergency responders worked frantically to extricate an elderly woman from a white Toyota Corolla sedan that was in the ditch on the north side of Route 137, also known as China Road. The crash occurred 2 miles from where China road intersects with Bay Street in downtown Winslow.

In a dramatic rescue, they extricated a man, a woman and two dogs from a dark double-cab pickup truck that was lying on its side in the breakdown lane, also on the north side of China Road.

Winslow police and firefighters, as well as state police and firefighters from Waterville, Winslow and Clinton worked at the scene, which was littered on both sides of the road with debris including clothes, books, coolers, food and other items. Vehicle parts also were strewn about.

Vehicles were backed up on China Road on either side of the crash site as officers directed traffic through the area.

Winslow police Officer John Veilleux said Rita Poulin, 88, of Winslow, was driving the white Toyota Corolla on South Reynolds Road when her car pulled out onto China Road. Driving east toward China was a Chevrolet truck driven by Gregory Howard, 60, of Union, whose pickup struck the car’s driver-side door. Inside the truck were Howard’s parents, Dwight Howard, 86, and Nancy Howard, 79, both of Union.

Both vehicles were destroyed and all occupants had been extricated from vehicles by 11:07 a.m., Veilleux said.

Veilleux didn’t know the exact nature of each person’s injuries but generally described the injuries as serious but not life-threatening.

The Howards were taken to Waterville hospitals, while Poulin was taken later by LifeFlight helicopter to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Poulin’s condition was not available Friday night from the Bangor hospital, in accordance with her family’s wishes, and neither Waterville hospital had information on the Howards’ condition.

Maine State Police were working to reconstruct the crash, and Veilleux said Friday evening that he didn’t know further details of the cause of the crash. Responders cleared the scene just after noon Friday.

Darek and Anja Swiercz and their son, Alex, who live at the corner of North Reynolds and China roads, said accidents occur at the intersection often, as there are blind spots and motorists cannot see vehicles approaching from other directions. The intersection is at the top of a hill where the speed limit is 35 mph, but many drivers do not obey that speed limit, according to the Swiercz family.

“It’s very busy. People drive 70 mph,” said Anja Swiercz, standing on her expansive lawn, which dips down to where the Corolla was in the ditch. “There should be a blinking light there.”

Darek Swiercz said there have been about 10 accidents at the intersection in the last decade.

“One year, it was either four or five, and they were all pretty bad,” he said.

Alex Swiercz said when new people come to visit their home, he always tells them to stop at the top of the hill on China Road before turning onto North Reynolds, as it is a dangerous intersection.

Around 11 a.m., crews placed a woman they had extricated from the truck onto a stretcher. She appeared to be conscious and speaking to firefighters. Before that, police and a firefighter removed a man and two dogs from the truck.

Darlene Kvingedal was standing at the corner of South Reynolds and China roads, watching the goings-on. She said she will be buying a house on the corner and is concerned about the dangerous intersection, where she had seen at least one other crash in the past.

“Something needs to be done on this corner, absolutely,” Kvingedal said.

Winslow Town Manager Michael Heavener said Friday a decision about whether to add safety measures is ultimately up to the state government. The town previously raised the “possibility of some device at that intersection,” but state officials determined at the time that there weren’t enough crashes at the intersection to warrant additional measures, according to Heavener. He estimated that the previous conversation with the state took place seven or eight years ago.

“We may take another look at that,” Heavener said, adding that he will ask the town’s police chief to compile crash data on the intersection before deciding whether to revisit the issue with state officials.

Veilleux said police have responded to reports of serious crashes at the same location on China Road previously. He advised drivers to use extra caution when pulling out onto China Road.

“In this situation, it’s hard to say exactly what occurred,” Veilleux said. “But basically, (drivers should) use caution, ease out and look both ways.”

Kvingedal commended the emergency workers who rescued and tended to the injured at the scene.

“They deserve every praise there can be,” she said. “They’re all wonderful.”

Winslow fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez was responding to his first accident since becoming the chief last month. He said firefighters and other emergency crews worked very well together at the scene.

“This is a new day, cooperating with surrounding jurisdictions,” Rodriguez said. “We have to come together because we have insufficient staffing levels due to limited resources. It was an outstanding cooperative effort between Waterville and Winslow — outstanding.”

Staff writer Matt Junker contributed reporting.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: