Topsham police officer's cruiser hit by alleged drunk driver

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TOPSHAM — An officer whose vehicle was struck Sunday by an alleged drunk driver sustained minor injuries and is still on the job, the Police Department said Monday.

Officer Lucas Shirland “had some whiplash, neck pain, but he’s actually able to come in and move around a little bit,” Chief Chris Lewis said in an interview Monday. “He’s a little bit sore, but he’s OK.”

The incident occurred at 2:27 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, when police were informed about a motorist who was possibly intoxicated and driving south on Interstate 295 from the Gardiner toll booth, according to a police press release.

Shirland responded and watched for the red pickup, which had Maine license plates, but after about 20 minutes he figured the driver may have already passed through.

After resuming regular patrol duties, Shirland was on the I-295 exit ramp heading for U.S. Route 196 shortly before 2:50 p.m. when the truck for which he’d been searching struck his car from behind. 

Mark Burson, 55, of Limestone, was arrested on charges of operating under the influence and operating without a license.

Topsham emergency medical services took Shirland to Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick, where he was treated for neck pain and released. A rear door of the cruiser Shirland was driving was damaged in the accident, according to police.

Police also said the Sagadahoc County district attorney’s office informed them the initial Class D OUI charge would be changed to Class B aggravated OUI, because of Burson’s criminal history.

Burson was scheduled to be arraigned later Monday.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Topsham Police Officer Lucas Shirland received minor neck injuries Sunday after his cruiser was struck by an allegedly drunk driver.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.