Dawn Astor, 43 years old of Topsham, and their granddaughter Eleina Astor, 6 years old also of Topsham. Courtesy of Alice Arsenault-Drake

Brunswick Police have identified the three members of a Topsham family who died in a crash on southbound Route 1 in Brunswick Friday afternoon.

Anthony Astor, 50, his wife Dawn Astor, 43, and their granddaughter Eleina Astor, 6, were killed when their 2013 Ford Taurus crashed into a rock embankment and burst into flames about a mile and a half south of the New Meadows Road exit, police said.

Eleina Astor, 6, of Topsham holding a student-of-the-week award. Courtesy of Alice Arsenault-Drake

Eleina’s brother, Carson, 4, was the only occupant who survived, thanks to the rescue efforts of passers-by.

Police said that numerous motorists stopped to try to extinguish the fire, but were only able to free the children from the back seat. Anthony and Dawn Astor could not be freed in time due to the extent of the damage to the vehicle.

Eleina Astor was hospitalized but succumbed to her injuries.

The crash remains under investigation. Police did not release any other information Monday, including the circumstances leading up to the crash on the divided, four-lane highway where the speed limit is 60 mph.


Charles Gilbertson of Bowdoin was one of the good Samaritans who attempted to free the victims from the wreckage.

Charles Gilbertson of Bowdoin after attempting to free those stuck in the burning car on Friday. Courtesy of Charles Gilbertson

Gilbertson said he was driving with his three daughters when he came to the accident scene, where another person already was attempting to help.

“We tried to get into the car doors, but they were locked,” Gilbertson said.

He retrieved a knife from his car, then shattered the back passenger window and helped free the two children from the backseat. He couldn’t break the front passenger car window, but another rescuer used a tire iron to break it.

“At that point the fire started getting larger,” Gilbertson said. “I had noticed that (the girl) was not breathing and they were performing CPR on her on the road.”

Gilbertson said that despite efforts by about six people with fire extinguishers, the vehicle eventually became completely engulfed in flames.


Fearing that the car might explode, he and others yelled for people to back away. Soon after, a fire truck arrived and was able to extinguish the flames.

Gilbertson said there were probably around a dozen people trying to help.

“I don’t consider myself heroic,” Gilbertson said. “I would hope anybody would do this when they came across an accident.”

Anthony Astor, 50 years old of Topsham, his wife Dawn Astor, 43 years old of Topsham.  Courtesy of Alice Arsenault-Drake

Alice Arsenault-Drake is Dawn Astor’s sister and lives in Florida. She said that she and her husband drove overnight to Maine after learning about the crash Friday.

Arsenault-Drake said that her sister will be remembered as someone who would always give you the shirt off her back.

“She would help you in any way possible that she could,” Arsenault-Drake said. “She was my best friend growing up.”


Arsenault-Drake said that Anthony and Dawn Astor were happily married and that “their grandchildren were their life.”

Dawn Astor worked at L.L. Bean and Anthony Astor worked at Bath Iron Works, she said.

Arsenault-Drake said that the family is finalizing the funeral services and memorials.

On Sunday, Dike Newell School, a K-2 elementary school in Bath, informed families of “the tragic loss of one of our students.”

In a letter, Principal Jennifer McKay said the school was making available to students its Crisis Intervention Team, which is “made up of made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at difficult times such as this.” Additional counseling staff also was going on hand for students.

Teachers discussed the death with students Monday morning.

“We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child as you need,” McKay wrote. “We know you will join us in our concern and sympathy for the family.”

A GoFundMe page was created on Sunday to help provide expense relief to the family for the services. As of 5:30 p.m. Monday, over $23,000 had been donated by 442 donors, surpassing the $20,000 goal.

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