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Topsham girl recovering after 2 days trapped in car

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Topsham girl recovering after 2 days trapped in car

TOPSHAM — A teenage girl is recovering from injuries sustained from a car accident that trapped her in her car for two days before she was found.

Kourtney Thibeault, 17, was driving home along Route 196 the night of Nov. 17 when she went off the road, traveling for about 40 feet before ending up in a ravine. Her mother, Katherine Perreault, said Thibeault suffered a broken leg and jaw when her SUV went off the road after hitting a deer.

The Mt. Ararat High School student is recovering at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where she was taken after Topsham police Officer Troy Garrison found her two nights after the accident.

Prior to the accident, Thibeault's parents last saw her the afternoon of Nov. 17 when the girl left for Auburn to take college-level classes, according to Topsham Police Lt. Chris Lewis. A cell phone text message at about 11:30 p.m. was their last communication with her.

After Thibeault failed to return home that night, her parents reported her missing at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 18.

Police contacted her friends and acquaintances for any clues to her whereabouts, and the department spread the word about her disappearance. Aiding the department by Nov. 19 were the Maine State Police, Portland and Lisbon police and the Maine Warden Service. Topsham Police set up an emergency command center at their headquarters.

Based on information that Thibeault's cell phone had utilized a tower in Durham, planes searched the area surrounding that tower. Officers including Garrison and Robert Ramsay conducted a ground search based on a rough radius from the tower.

"They started backtracking ... and then just slowly searching (Route) 196 for any signs of anything," Lewis said.

At about 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 19, Garrison was searching the north side of Route 196 near Roberts Hill Road and noticed tire marks leading off the road. He followed those marks, saw the grass had been matted down and called for other officers, Lewis said.

Garrison then saw a freshly sheared tree. A large portion of the tree was down in the ravine where he spotted the black Ford Explorer that Thibeault had been driving. Thibeault was pinned inside the vehicle and had to be extricated.

"She was still alert and conscious, but obviously suffering from exposure, (after) two days being at the bottom of a ravine," Lewis said.

Thibeault was listed in critical condition after arriving at Central Maine Medical Center, he said.

Lewis noted that there was "zero visibility" of the vehicle from the road and air, but that Garrison was able to find the clues that led to Thibeault's rescue.

"It turned out fantastic," he said. "It was a huge relief for the department that we could find her Thursday night. It was a relief for us as well as the family that she was able to be found alive, and obviously our prayers go out to her for a speedy recovery."

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.