CLINTON — A 16-year-old local boy took his parent’s car and early Sunday morning began to pick up four of his friends for a joyride that turned tragic, Clinton Police Chief Stanley Bell said Monday.
“I don’t know of an accident that has been this bad in our town,” the chief said, taking a break from the phone calls from parents and residents after the fatal rollover that claimed three young lives.
“A lot of sadness, you know,” said Jay Gould, the owner of Tradewinds in Clinton, located just down the road from the crash scene. “It’s a small town. Everyone pretty much knows everyone.”
The Bulldogs are hurting, said SAD 49 Superintendent Roberta Hersom while seated at her desk wearing school colors.
“Brokenhearted community right now,” Hersom said. “Certainly, I think, right now it’s shock and deep sorrow for the families. It’s an unimaginable situation.”
The unlicensed boy was driving on Hinckley Road towards town in icy conditions at around 7 a.m. Sunday.
“It looks like the driver lost control,” the police chief said. “And really just went from the travel lane from his side of the road, turned right across the road and into the tree.”
The young Clinton residents who died at the scene include Thomas Porfirio, 15, and sisters Emily Baker, 14, and Ashlin Baker, 12.
A GofundMe page created to help the Baker family says the sisters lost their dad to cancer last year. They are survived by their mother and a brother.
Ashley Idamae Pouliot, a relative of Porfirio, said in a Monday text that, “He was going to be a great man.”
Nevaeh Wilson, 12, and the driver were taken to the hospital. His name is not being released at this time to protect his identity during the investigation, the police chief said.
“We’re going to try and interview the passenger in Portland today, as well as the driver,” Bell said Monday.
The school system immediately reacted.
“Our schools, particularly, our junior high and senior high have designated spaces where students are able to access counselors, which is of great help,” Hersom said. “We opened the school day with a faculty meeting to help the staff with greeting students.”
The community also is helping.
“We heard there was a GoFundMe page started yesterday for the two girls and then a separate one for the young man,” said Gould, who is from Bangor. “It’s something we’re going to participate in for the folks who work here or work for us.”
He added, “It’s just a real tragic event that’s rocked the community.”
The police chief said driver’s inexperience and, possibly, speeding were factors in the crash. The Maine State Police reconstructed the accident.
“I don’t minimize adults,” Bell said. “If it was five adults and three passed away you kind of can assign some responsibility a lot easier than you can with children who clearly don’t understand the consequences of their actions.”