St. John Valley

Tractor trailer catches fire after rolling over into ditch in Frenchville

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — The driver of a tractor trailer carrying potatoes is “lucky to be alive” after losing control of the big rig which overturned on snowy Route 1 in Frenchville Tuesday afternoon.

The tractor trailer landed on its side in a ditch and the front yard of a home near the intersection of Route 1 and Starbarn Avenue.

The driver of this tractor trailer walked away unharmed after losing control of the rig and rolling it over into the ditch Tuesday afternoon on Route 1 in Frenchville.
Morgan Mitchell|Fiddlehead Focus

Gary Vaillancourt, 56, of Frenchville was driving the rig east on Route 1 at about 1:25 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle “due to road conditions” causing the tractor trailer to roll over onto its side, according to Maine State Police Trooper Andrew Levesque, who investigated the accident. It started snowing Tuesday morning with National Weather Service meteorologists forecasting 5-8 inches for the area by early Wednesday morning.

Vaillancourt, who climbed out the driver’s side, said at the scene that he was thankful to be alive, but did not want to comment further.

The owner of the nearby home, Jen Gagnon, said that the location has been a hot spot for accidents in the wintertime.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” she said. “Thank God he was wearing his seatbelt.”

Neighbor, Mira Saucier said when she saw the accident she knew Vaillancourt was lucky to be unhurt.

“I’ve seen accident scenes like that, and people don’t usually walk away from stuff like that,” Saucier said.

The road was temporarily shut down as crews worked to unload potatoes from the trailer so they could pull the truck out of the ditch. While they were still unloading, however, the tractor caught fire.

When state police issued a statement about the accident at 4:10 p.m., Sgt. Jeffrey Clark reported that it was still burning at that time and that motorists should look for alternate routes until further notice.

At 6 p.m., Saucier indicated from the scene that the roadway had been cleared and reopened.

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