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Alcohol, texting factors in fatal crash
FATAL— Local teens Rebecca Mason, 16, West Paris and Logan Dam, 19, Norway were killed instantly after this 2002 Subaru Impreza, driven by Kristina Lowe, 18 of Paris, carrying passenger, Jacob Skaff, 22, also from Paris, drifted off of Route 219 in West Paris and hit a stand of trees roof-first. According to Maine State Trooper Tom Welch, drinking and texting while driving were to blame for the deadly accident. Lowe was transported to Central Maine Medical Center and was listed in critical condition. Skaff was transported to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, but was treated and released, said Welch.
WEST PARIS — Two teens were killed and another two hospitalized Saturday after a 2002 Subaru Impreza went off the road and crashed into trees; the incident was a result of drinking and texting while driving, according to Maine State Police Trooper Tom Welch.
Logan Dam, 19, and Rebecca Mason, 16, both passengers in the vehicle traveling on Route 219 were killed instantly, according to Welch, after the vehicle drifted off the road, struck a driveway, and went airborne roof-first into a stand of trees.
Driver Kristina Lowe, 18, and passenger Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris were both injured in the accident, he reported. Injuries were "non-life-threatening," he said.
According to West Paris Fire Chief Norm St. Pierre, each survivor was discovered in a separate location by emergency personnel, about a mile away from the crash scene. Lowe, who suffered serious injuries, had returned to the party residence and was later picked up by an ambulance crew and was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway.
Skaff was found with relatives, and away from the party, said St. Pierre. According to published reports, Skaff was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released.
St. Pierre said that the thermal imaging unit was used to try to locate the two victims around the accident scene. A scanner call for a state police canine unit for tracking purposes was heard at the time. St. Pierre said that they were not able to locate them until a 911 call was placed from the home to which Lowe had fled.
Lowe was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland where she was listed in critical condition Monday.
According to Maine State Police Spokesman Steve McCausland, Lowe had been sending text messages when the crash occurred. The car was headed back to a party where underage drinking was taking place, he said.
On Tuesday, Paris Police Officer Nate Bowie reported that the man who rented the house where the driver attended a party before the crash refused to allow police with a search warrant to enter one of the rooms.
Jesiah E. Sande, 36, listed at 38 Porter Road in West Paris, was arrested and charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution at 3:45 a.m. Saturday, according to police reports. His bail was set at $1,000 unsecured bond. He made bail at the Oxford County Jail about two hours later, reports said.
Sande is a cousin of Dam, who also lived at 12 Yeaton Lane, during the time of accident.
McCausland said that under Maine law, drivers in fatal crashes are required to undergo a blood-alcohol test, though he could not comment on whether a test had been administered to Lowe. A call was heard on the scanner for a blood tech at the time of the incident.
Though Lowe's condition is "not life-threatening," McCausland suspects that she will be recuperating for quite some time.
According to published reports, Lowe had already been drunk when she arrived to the party. Witnesses have said that Lowe tried to leave the party Friday and ran into some trees at the end of the driveway. Following this incident, Lowe's friends escorted her back to the house, where they confiscated her keys. Later, Lowe had stolen her keys back and had left the house with some friends.
McCausland said Tuesday morning that Maine State Police are currently investigating several aspects of the crash, including where and how the alcohol was purchased. No charges have been filed yet, he said.
"There is a lot more work to do before the final crash report is done, and once it is done the District Attorney's office will then review it to determine which charges against the driver are appropriate," said McCausland, "but the main focus of the investigation is the fatal crash in which those two lives were lost."
Approximately 1,600 students at OHCHS spent Monday coming to grips with the loss of Mason, a current OHCHS student, and Dam, a former OHCHS student, as they started their day with a moment of silence. Before the start of school Monday morning, Principal Ted Moccia met with staff to discuss how to handle the various emotions of students mourning the deaths of their schoolmates.
This crash is not the first for Lowe. According to police reports, Lowe was driving a 1997 Chevrolet SUV when she lost control of the vehicle on an icy road in Paris in February 2010.
Mason was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed playing field hockey, according to her obituary. "She was a beautiful, vivacious, smart, generous, loving, and kind young lady."
Dam enjoyed being with his friends, motorcycling, skiing and snowmobiling, according his obituary.
Moccia said that both victims were good students.
"Becca was a girl who was extremely involved in the school, and just so vibrant and full of life," said Moccia. "She was a very good student."
"We had some individual counseling available and some group counseling rooms and have allowed students to express themselves through writing and pictures," he said about helping students cope with the tragedy. "We have created a memory wall, and students are leaving messages and writing their thoughts. We are giving kids the ability to process and work their way through the grieving. Our hearts and emotions go out to these families."
"Rebecca's life was like a shooting star, beautiful and bright traveling across the sky for all to see, full of potential and energy, but ending much too soon," Mason's family wrote in her obituary. "She touched so many hearts, and left behind fond memories to be cherished forever. Those of us who loved and knew her, family and friends, anyone touched in some small way by Becca, Let us all live a little better; try a little harder; and love a little more. These are the things Rebecca Lynn Mason would have added to our world. Becca we love and miss you. We are forever diminished by your loss."