An 18-year-old Dresden volunteer firefighter is recovering from severe injuries after a fiery car wreck in Augusta early Saturday, June 25.
The driver of the vehicle, Cade Ayotte, 21, of South China, has been charged with operating under the influence in connection to the crash, according to Lt. Chris Read, of the Augusta Police Department.
Nicole Freese, 18, of Richmond, was a passenger in a 1998 Chevrolet pickup truck that was westbound on South Belfast Avenue in Augusta when it veered off the road, striking trees, at about 5:15 a.m., Saturday, June 25, Read said.
The truck caught fire and Freese had to fight her way out, according to a gofundme.com account established to aid in her recovery. Freese and Ayotte were transported to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. Freese was later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Freese broke several bones in the accident, sustained fractures in her back and neck, and had to undergo surgery, according to the account. As of Tuesday, June 28, her condition has been upgraded to fair, a spokesperson for Maine Medical Center said.
Freese was an active member of Dresden Fire & Rescue, where she served for about two years, first as a junior firefighter, Dresden Fire Chief Steve Lilly said. The accident has affected the whole department, which is committed to aiding in her recovery, he said.
“Everyone on the department is like family. When someone gets hurt, it really hits home,” Lilly said.
The online fundraiser is at gofundme.com/2ba5u2k.