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Sanford hospital mourns doctor killed in accident

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Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:00 am

The staff and employees of Goodall Hospital in Sanford are "in absolute mourning" after learning Wednesday morning of the death of their occupational health director, said Darlene Stromstad, hospital president.

Sanford police have identified the woman who was killed late Tuesday afternoon when her SUV was struck by a tractor trailer truck on Grammar Road as Dr. Mary Jo A. Wakeman.

Wakeman, 53, who lived off Grammar Road on Rockwood, was attempting to take a left turn from Dubois Drive onto Grammar Road when she was hit on the driver's side by the 18-wheeler just after 5 p.m.

"It's a terrible piece of road," said Thomas Connelly Jr., chief of police. "Right before Dubois is a hill … enough so vision is obscured.

"My suspicion is, that she looked right, left, then right" before starting to turn, said Connelly, explaining that most people do the opposite, because a vehicle coming from the left is closer.

"The truck crested the hill just as she started to pull out," said Connelly, adding that speed was not a factor.

The accident remains under investigation and reconstruction is being done by the Sanford police.

Wakeman was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was pronounced dead between 5:30-6 p.m. The operator of the truck, whom police did not identify, was not injured. However, he was evaluated at Goodall as a precaution, said Connelly.

When asked how the driver was doing, Connelly replied that he probably wasn't dealing with the turn of events too well.

Connelly knew Wakeman through her husband, Kent Hall, who treated him for an injury shortly after Connelly arrived in Sanford. The couple have three sons together. One is attending medical school and one is in a graduate program, said Connelly. The youngest, Martin, who goes by Mac, will be a senior this fall at Sanford High School. Hall also has two grown sons.

"It's just a tragedy," said Connelly about the accident.

Wakeman and Hall, who is the director of the emergency department, moved to Sanford from Cincinnati in the summer of 2005, said Stomstad.

The couple had both retired from the Navy, and were interested in Sanford and community health where they "could make a difference," said Stromstad.

Wakeman's job as director of occupational health involved working with businesses and their employees to ensure workplace safety. She also saw patients at her office at the hospital's occupational health and wellness center at 13 July St.

"She was an excellent physician with a passion for public safety," said Stromstad. Wakeman was also Sanford's safety officer, she added.

Wakeman became a vital part of the hospital "family" in the nearly four years she was here, according to Stromdstad, who said, "Our organization is in absolute mourning."

"She made a huge difference to this organization," said Stromstad, who described Wakeman as "very kind," "very nice" and "even-tempered."

"She was always warm and always smiling," said Stromstad.

Wakeman was also one of the few people who understood Stromstad's brand of humor.

"There aren't too many Midwesterners out here," said Stromstad. "Mary Jo and I were both from the Dakotas - she was from South Dakota and I am from North Dakota. She and I got each other's humor."

"She could find the humor in the most dry, unreal situation."

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