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Driver hurt in Route 101 rollover is thankful for those who helped

Union Leader Correspondent

December 22. 2016 9:13PM
Accident victim Matthew Durkee with his wife, Robyn, in his hospital room at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. (Jason Schreiber)

As his pickup truck flipped over on Route 101 in Epping, Matthew Durkee could only think of his family — pregnant wife, Robyn, his sons, 5 and 23, and his daughter, 9.

“I was worried about my family and what was going to happen. I love my wife and kids with all my heart,” Durkee said Thursday from his hospital bed at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Durkee, who was thrown about 20 feet, broke several bones in Wednesday’s crash and will spend this Christmas in the hospital. He knows he’s lucky to be alive.

“That’s about as close to death as it comes,” he said.

The frightening ordeal has put life in perspective for the 46-year-old Manchester man who said he’s thankful for the quick response from police, fire and rescue personnel — and passing motorists who stopped in the moments after his mangled truck landed at the bottom of an embankment.

“It could have been so much worse if people didn’t stop and weren’t there,” Durkee said.

Durkee frames houses and was headed to a job site in Portsmouth when the crash happened just after 6:30 a.m. He was traveling eastbound on Route 101 and had just driven across the bridge over Route 125 when the truck began to roll.

Police are still investigating the cause of the crash, but Durkee said a witness reported that a truck in front of him had swerved to miss a trash bag in the highway. He believes he tried to swerve as well. He said he thought he blew a tire.

“I just remember ceiling, seat, ceiling, seat, ceiling seat. It just kept flipping. The last thing I remember is hitting the guardrails,” he said.

The passenger’s-side door was ripped off as the truck tumbled down the embankment; Durkee was thrown out of the vehicle.

He remembered landing in the dirt, looking at his truck 20 feet away, and then the image of State Police Sgt. Steve Cooper coming toward him. The debris from the wreckage included Christmas gifts he bought for his wife. They were scattered around. Some of the gifts were recovered, but others were damaged, he said.

Durkee’s wife rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard about the crash.

“Once I saw the picture of the truck I didn’t expect the best,” she said.

Durkee broke his collar bone, left shoulder and shoulder plate, and several ribs. He also suffered bruising, soreness in his right leg, and fractures in his back and spine, he said.

While he’s expecting a long road to recovery, Durkee is also worried about how he’ll recover financially. He said his 1999 Ford F350 pickup truck wasn’t insured and he has no health insurance.

“I’m scared just trying to figure out how I’m going to make it through everything being out of work, but I’ll worry about that another day. Now I just want to thank everybody that was involved,” he said.

No fund has been established to help the family as of Thursday afternoon.

Durkee’s wife is also worried as she prepares to give birth in February through a C-section that will involve a period of recovery, but she’s thankful she’ll have her husband this Christmas.

Her message to those who helped at the scene: “Thank you for saving my soulmate.”

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