Sep. 16—AUBURN — What started as a quiet evening getting some dinner Thursday night at the drive-thru turned chaotic in a matter of moments for the people in line at Burger King on Center Street.
Police said 18-year-old Asad Mohamed of Lewiston had been heading south on Center Street about 7:15 p.m. when his car collided with another vehicle driven by Matthew Barrington, 32, of Brunswick, who had been pulling out of the Verizon parking lot.
The collision sent Mohamed's car airborne, police said. It passed through the Mobil Mart parking lot, shot across a small patch of land and landed at Burger King next door, sailing between a pair of pillars and striking a car occupied by Gary Girard, 61, of Poland, and his wife, Ginger — in the end landing on its side.
Police on Friday released details on the chain-reaction crash in which several people were injured, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
Mohamed's car also struck a vehicle driven by Nathaniel Simmers, 37, of Auburn who was waiting in the drive-thru line with his children.
Girard was at the drive-thru window, his wife in the passenger seat, waiting for a strawberry lemonade and a bacon cheeseburger. The Burger King worker was just handing over the food when the drama unfolded.
"All of a sudden we heard what sounded like an explosion," Girard said. "We both looked up to see where the sound was coming from and we see this car flying through the air and coming right at us. I'm like, 'oh my God.' I grabbed my wife by the shoulders and just pulled her over toward me. I mean, that car was in midair, coming right at us. It was unbelievable. And then all hell broke loose."
Mohamed's car slammed into Girard's car, leaving the couple temporarily trapped inside, air bags deployed around them. Girard said all the windows except for the windshield got blown out in his car, which was lifted off the ground and spun around on impact. He suffered whiplash and his wife was in pain around her midsection from the pull of the seat belt. His first instinct was to get himself and Ginger out of the car.
"I couldn't get the door open," Girard said. "I was using my knee and my hand, giving it a big shove. Finally, the door opened and I was out of the car. But I couldn't get my wife out through the passenger door. I had to gently try to get her over the console so I could get her out through the driver's side door. I was like, 'just follow me, follow me. I got you.' Finally, we both were out of the car. That's when I saw the car behind us. Until then, I didn't know the extent of it."
He said music was still blasting from the overturned car as rescuers struggled to get the passengers out.
Girard and his wife were taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, along with the other victims. They were there until 4 in the morning, being treated for a variety of injuries. He said they were both still sore from the accident a day later.
"We're a hurting couple," he said.
Several people jumped in at the scene to help the victims. According to one witness, a soldier, a nurse and a doctor stopped to aid the injured as did others who had been at Burger King or Mobil Mart when the crash occurred.
Chelsi Clavet of Poland was sitting in the Burger King drive-thru line, with two cars in front of her, when the crash unfolded in front of her.
"I heard a noise to my right," Clavet said. "I looked over and saw a car come jetting across Center Street, over the curb at Mobil, go airborne and land sideways, crashing into the car at the drive-thru window and the building. I jumped out of my car, called 911 and ran over. Other people were on the car helping the people inside get out."
Police said speed was a factor in the crash, which is still being reconstructed as part of the investigation.
In the aftermath of the crash, several bystanders rushed in to help the victims. One witness said there were four teenagers in Mohamed's car, each of whom suffered a variety of injuries.
Fire and rescue crews at the scene called for additional ambulances from several area towns when it became clear how many victims were involved. Center Street was shut down for part of the night as police began their investigation.