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.
What a shame!
I’ve owned a cottage on Lake Ossipee for 17 years, and as a ski instructor in N. Conway I commute that route all the time. My observation is that the speed on Route #25, is usually a factor in a lot of accidents on this road.
There seem to be serious (often fatal) accidents on Route #25 all the time, in spite of the extended visibility. I am a bit of an old fart and always travel at the speed limit, not only on Route #25 but on most roads also. I am retired. I try hard to allow time to make my commute, and I am usually not in a rush. Having said that, most of the time when I travel Route #25 at the speed limit, cars and sometimes heavy trucks, sometimes very heavy trucks, traveling at what appears to be an average of 70MPH pass me all the time. Much of Route #25 is a wide open stretch that encourages that. Toss in an intersection or two or three or four and you have the formula for disaster. It’s not just the Route #153 intersection. If you are a local you know that it’s happening all along Route #25.
Any fix suits me.
My wife and I were sorry to hear of the loss of this young man and extend our sympathies to his family. We almost met with the same fate a few years ago at the same intersection. We were heading East one evening on Rt. 25 and I signaled a left turn on to Rt. 153 North. Just by a stroke of luck, I checked my driver’s side mirror before making the turn, saw a fully loaded logging truck passing me on the left side going at least 60 mph, across the double line and into the intersection. I was really at fault because my left, rear turnsignal bulb had burned out without my knowledge and I didn’t notice it until I was making my next left turn onto Ossipee Lake Road. That’s when I began to realize how close we came to a tragic accident. Any driver should know enough not to pass across the double line, much less at a high-speed intersection. TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT! We see a lot of high-speed passing on the right in that area when people are making left turns onto Rt. 153. Also if you are driving East on Rt. 25 at sundown, you are often blinded by the sun when approaching that intersection.
My husband and I live on Leavitt Rd. I can not tell you how many times we have almost been rear ended, or T-boned because cars, and trucks constantly pass on both the left and the right, (in the break down lane) while we are making the left hand turn. The passing on #25 is uncontrollable!
On Memorial Day weekend we saw a car pass 13 cars in a row, on Route 16 in Rochester. What are they thinking!!!!!!
We’ve been on Leavitt Bay since 1973. My parents were nearly killed on 25 back in 1988 when their Maxima got creamed by an out of control 18-wheeler. Seems the driver fell asleep in broad daylight. To see the car afterward, you’d never believe anyone survived the crash.