Effingham — May 27, 2009 — An Effingham intersection notorious for deadly crashes claimed the life of a Kingswood High School senior Monday night, leaving police calling again for heightened safety measures. Christopher Follansbee, 17, died in a two-car collision at the intersection of Route 153 and 25 around 7 p.m. The local teen was carrying two passengers in a 1999 Saturn.
Both passengers were hospitalized. One was airlifted to Maine Medical Center and the other taken to Huggins Hospital, as was a passenger of the other vehicle, a 2004 Jeep Wrangler. The Saturn apparently drove through a stop sign, state police said.
“It’s just a tragic occurrence to lose a young life like that,” said school superintendent Jack Robinson Tuesday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
State police were still investigating the crash and did not release any more information by mid-Tuesday afternoon. Employees at Boyle’s Market on Route 25 described Follansbee as a “nice kid” who routinely stopped in the market with his girlfriend.
“It’s just a shame,” said John Levesque. “He was going to graduate.”
Follansbee isn’t the first of Levesque’s acquaintances to meet with tragedy at the crossing, which has drawn attention from the state in recent years after a string of deaths and local outcry for state-level help.
Levesque was friends with Adam Doucette, a 22-year-old theology student who was struck broadside in 2004 and nearly killed. Left to mount a courageous recovery from a massive brain injury, Doucette earned a 2006 “miracle patient” award from New England Rehab for his tremendous progress.
“Adam was just coming home from work. They’ve got to do something,” Levesque said. “They should put in a rotary, that way everybody has to slow down and go around.”
The state Department of Transportation has met with local officials to probe the intersection’s propensity for high-speed accidents, which often occur at dusk. There is a flashing light and a stop sign that blinks red to traffic approaching on 153 from the north, the source of most crashes, the police chief said.
Effingham police chief Joe Collins said he’s seen three or four fatalities — one since Doucette was hit — plus other serious non-fatal crashes at the intersection.
“It’s always people coming from Conway, coming south on 153,” he said. “Most of them seem to be at dusk.”
Like many, he was perplexed at the volume of crashes because visibility stretches for a mile in either direction. Area police say they’d like to see something else to warn drivers of a major highway crossing. The state considered rumble strips in the travel lane on 153, or even a full stop light.
“Personally, I’d like to see another flashing light and a sign about a quarter mile before the corner,” Collins said. “To warn people there’s an intersection is coming up.”
After the safety meeting, he said DOT added a stronger red strobe flasher. But local residents are saying it’s just something about the “feel” of the curving 153 heading toward Route 25, Collins said.
“It just doesn’t feel like an intersection. That’s what the people I’ve talked to are telling me,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is. It’s a tricky intersection, just the feel of it coming around the corner.”
One motorist who stopped to ask directions at the crash scene Monday night was arrested for unrelated drug charges. When the driver rolled down the window, the officer smelled marijuana, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
Robertson said the school only learned Follansbee’s identity Tuesday morning and was preparing to activate its crisis response team.