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Husson student hit by wrong-way driver transferred to Mass General

Tristan Kaldenberg (Courtesy of Kaldenberg family via BDN)

BANGOR, Maine (BDN) -- The Husson student involved in a head-on crash Sunday night with a possible drunken driver going the wrong way on Interstate 95, has undergone several surgeries and woke up for the first time Tuesday, his father said.

“He woke up a little bit this morning,” a first since Sunday’s crash, Casey Kaldenberg, of Littleton, Massachusetts, said by phone about his son, Tristan Kaldenberg. “He’s at Mass General, and he’s doing great, all things considered.”

The 19-year-old freshman at Husson University was driving north when he encountered a truck driven by Hugh Brawn, 70, of Clinton, who was traveling south in the northbound lane. The two vehicles collided head on near Pittsfield at around 6:50 p.m. Sunday.

A LifeFlight helicopter brought the teen from the crash scene to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

“The unbelievable EMTs stabilized him and medevaced him to Bangor,” Casey Kaldenberg posted on Facebook. “The staff here is incredible and has given us so much hope. It looked to be very grim at first. Tristan had lots of critical injuries.”

The teen has had several surgeries, one to fix his femur and another to remove his spleen, according to his father.

“He broke his nose, maxilla, mandible, ribs, sacrum, pelvis, femur,” his father posted. “He had his spleen removed, part of his intestine, and has bruised lungs. His femur was repaired.”

Once he was in stable condition, Tristan Kaldenberg was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. A hospital spokesperson said Kaldenberg was in the Blake Building, which contains the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“There the plastic surgeons team will work on his face and fix the broken bones and make him handsome again,” Casey Kaldenberg posted. “Then comes the recovery, which we are glad to go through.”

Police say there was little Kaldenberg could do to avoid the crash.

“The crash took place at the top of a slight rise on the northbound side and Kaldenberg had only seconds to react,” Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said in a Monday email.

Brawn was taken by ambulance to EMMC, where is recovering from his injuries and hip surgery, according to McCausland.

State police continue to investigate the crash to determine why Brawn was driving in the wrong lane, but McCausland said in a statement released Monday that troopers “suspect the driver of the truck going the wrong way was intoxicated and disoriented.”

No charges have been filed as of Tuesday, and there are no new developments, McCausland said.

Pat Moody from AAA Northern New England said drivers who encounter a wrong-way driver should stay to the right and try to get out of the way.

“Pull off the right side of the road and stop on the shoulder,” he said. “Call 911 while on the shoulder and report the incident. More often than not the ‘wrong way driver’ is impaired so it is best to try to steer clear and stay far out of the way.”

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