BRUNSWICK — A police officer is recovering after her cruiser collided last week with a tractor-trailer truck on Mill Street.
According to a police report, Officer Gretchen Paxton was responding to a call of reported road rage at about 3 p.m. Friday, June 3. She was driving southbound when the suspect’s vehicle passed her in the opposite direction. Paxton reportedly turned on her emergency lights and made a U-turn to follow the vehicle.
According to Police Commander Marc Hagan, Paxton was focused on the other vehicle and did not notice she was turning in front of the truck, which struck the right rear side of her car.
Paxton was taken to Midcoast Hospital with minor injuries, including neck and back pain. She was expected to return to work at the end of this week.
“This was a very serious crash,” Hagan said. “Officer Paxton is very lucky.”
The driver of the truck, Wayne Shaffer of Milo, was uninjured and did not receive any driving citations, according to police. The truck was towed from the scene, and Hagan said he didn’t know the extent of the damage.
The Police Department has not yet received a cost estimate of the cruiser’s damage, but Hagan said the car was probably totaled and will have to be replaced. Each police cruiser costs $24,000, not including extras like the internal cage that separates the front and rear seats.
When an accident involving a police cruiser occurs, the Police Department does an internal investigation and determines the cause of the crash. In this case, Paxton, who has been with the department for three years, was found at fault. She has never been in an accident before, Hagan said.
While serious collisions where the officer is to blame are rare, Hagan said minor accidents happen more frequently.
“As many hours as we spend on the road, sometimes an officer is going to lose concentration,” he said.
Hagan said another officer was able to stop the driver suspected of road rage further down the street. But then that officer received a report of domestic assault, and with several officers tied up at the crash, he had to let the driver go to respond to the new call.
Brunswick Police Department Officer Gretchen Paxton’s police cruiser, after it collided with a tractor-trailer truck on Mill Street last week.