Route 302 crash injures five local residents

 INVESTIGATION BEGINS — Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones peers inside the wreckage of a 2010 Kia Friday after its five occupants, including two juveniles, were taken by ambulance to Bridgton Hospital. Extrication units from Bridgton and Naples Fire Departments were used to remove the roof. The occupants were three females, ages 20, 19 and under 18, and two males, ages 20 and under 18.

INVESTIGATION BEGINS — Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones peers inside the wreckage of a 2010 Kia Friday after its five occupants, including two juveniles, were taken by ambulance to Bridgton Hospital. Extrication units from Bridgton and Naples Fire Departments were used to remove the roof. The occupants were three females, ages 20, 19 and under 18, and two males, ages 20 and under 18.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Driver inattention was a contributing factor in a one-vehicle rollover crash Friday on Route 302 that sent a compact car with five Bridgton residents careening down a grassy embankment at a 45-degree angle for over 100 yards before hitting some trees near the Burnham Road.

Injured in the 2 p.m. crash was driver Dylan McPhee, 20, along with his passengers Caitlyn Fleck, 19, Carmela Ploicastro, 20, and one male and one female juvenile. The ages of the juveniles were not being released by police, but police did confirm that all five crash victims live in Bridgton. All were conscious and alert following the crash, suffering injuries ranging from cuts and lacerations to broken bones, according to Bridgton Police Chief Kevin Schofield. He declined to identify what injuries were sustained by each of the crash victims.

The accident tied up traffic along the busy highway for hours, as five separate ambulances — United Ambulance, PACE Ambulance, Naples, Casco and Raymond Rescue Departments — arrived on the scene to find McPhee’s 2010 Kia at the bottom of the embankment resting on its driver’s side. Extrication equipment from both the Bridgton and Naples Fire Departments was used to cut off the roof and both doors in order to free those still caught inside. A witness said one male was able to crawl out of the car on his own, but Schofield said he could not confirm that.

All of the crash victims were taken to Bridgton Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and two of them were stabilized and then transferred by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to Schofield.

Witnesses said driver McPhee, of 70 North Road, was driving south on Route 302 just past Ovide’s Used Cars when the Kia “began swerving all over the road,” Schofield said. McPhee lost control, and the Kia left the pavement and barreled in a straight line down a steep grassy embankment for at least 100 yards before glancing off a pine tree and smashing to a stop against a grouping of smaller trees. There were no skid marks on the highway.

Schofield declined to say what might have led McPhee to lose control, but did say that police have “done some blood testing” to rule out possible other contributing factors, other than simple driver inattention, in the crash. He said he did not expect his department to issue a final determination of cause of the crash “in the near future.”

Schofield said it is not yet known if all the occupants were wearing seat belts. He also declined to say where McPhee and his passengers were coming from, or headed to. No evidence of alcohol was found at the scene. Schofield also declined to comment on a report by a witness that a laptop was removed from the vehicle.

Witnesses reported that McPhee appeared to be driving to keep up with the normal flow of traffic, and that speed does not appear to be a contributing factor in the crash, which remains under investigation by the Bridgton Police Department.

The Casco Fire Department also responded to the scene, and traffic was backed up on either end for some distance at a time when many people were traveling either to or from the Fryeburg Fair.

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