Maine State Police have released the identities of two Sumner High School teens involved in a fatal crash in Steuben.

Where Was the Crash?

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss says Troopers responded to a report of a crash at approximately 1:30 Sunday afternoon on Unionville Road. When they arrived, they found two teens, one of whom had died of their injuries. The other teen, who had been driving the Chevy Malibu, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

The deceased has been identified as Cole Merchant, 17, of Sullivan. Driving the vehicle was Chase Atwater, 18, of Steuben.

What Happened?

An initial investigation into the circumstances of the crash indicate that the vehicle was traveling south when it became airborne after cresting a hill. The driver lost control and the vehicle struck a large tree on the passenger side. What prompted the vehicle to become airborne remains under investigation, but State Police say speed appears to have been a factor.

Do We Know Where the Students Went to School?

Principal Jackson Green of Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan posted a letter to parents and community members on the Facebook page for the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus. In it, he confirms that the two Seniors from Sumner were involved in the crash in Steuben.


Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the students involved.

Green says he's arranged for grief counselors to be available to students in Sullivan and is working with administrators in neighboring communities to do the same.

As a tight-knit community, we have always come together in times of adversity. I encourage all of us to lean on one another for support, to offer kindness, and to demonstrate solidarity as we navigate through the challenges ahead.

A candlelight vigil is planned for Sunday, December 17th. Our sincerest condolences to the family, friends, classmates, and administrators of the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus for their loss.

We'll update this story as more details become available.

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