TRENTON — The first thing that Zach Huckel-Bauer did after he freed himself from his seat belt and climbed out his window was crawl to the passenger side of the upturned Toyota Highlander, where his fiancée, Christa Wroblewski, was suspended upside down.
“She was trapped for a little longer,” said Huckel-Bauer.
“I was able to go around and talk her through getting her seat belt off. We didn’t lose consciousness or anything,” he added. “But it was quite disorienting.”
The accident scene on Route 3 Sept. 12 was dramatic: the sport utility vehicle was upended, windows smashed, one wheel ripped entirely off. A door panel was missing and part of the roof, “right in the middle” of the passenger and driver’s seats, as Huckel-Bauer described it, had caved in.
The cornhole boards Huckel-Bauer and his friend had built for the couple’s wedding that was slated to take place two days later had taken the brunt when the SUV flipped. A case of red wine had shattered on the pavement, and wedding decorations and antique mason jars were everywhere. Sticky liquor covered the box carrying Wroblewski’s wedding dress and the garment bag with Huckel-Bauer’s suit in it.
The couple, who live in New York, had been on their way to the island to prepare for their wedding, which was scheduled for Saturday.
They’d gone to Ellsworth to pick up their rings from Striking Gold Jewelers and were heading back to Mount Desert Island when a car in the opposite lane rear-ended an SUV, which was pushed into oncoming traffic, where it hit the Toyota Highlander Huckel-Bauer was driving.
The impact was enough to launch the Highlander and roll it onto its roof on the side of the road, just before the entrance of the Trenton Bridge, near the parking lot of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.
“There happened to be a few trauma nurses having lunch nearby. They were instantly there with calm, reassuring voices,” said Huckel-Bauer.
“My family and my wife’s family were close behind,” said Huckel-Bauer. “We’re just really lucky and we’re really grateful for it. There was definitely some sort of something watching over us.”
Apart from the bride and groom, the dress and the suit also made it out intact, as did the wedding rings (they were Huckel-Bauer’s first thought after Wroblewski was free) and many of the decorations.
“It was kind of a DIY wedding,” said Huckel-Bauer. “The whole car was packed so tight. We had all sorts of stuff that you would never have expected to make it out intact-decorations that I’d handmade for the event that we were totally able to use.”
The couple suffered minor injuries in the crash, including some finger swelling that made it a bit tough to get the rings on at first.
“A wedding is always a big, complicated, challenging time,” said Huckel-Bauer, “but this accident made it even that much more heightened in its drama and emotion.”
Their evening plans got a bit mangled: they entertained guests from their beds in the Mount Desert Island Hospital, rather than out on the town, but things were back on track for a rehearsal dinner on Friday, said Huckel-Bauer.
“Our whole extended family was in town,” said Huckel-Bauer, who was raised in Blue Hill, “so the hospital room was quickly admitting aunts and uncles and parents. That was really nice to just be surrounded instantly by so much love and caring.”
After being released from the hospital, on a cold, windy Saturday, two days after crawling out of their overturned SUV, the couple were married at the Hulls Cove Schoolhouse.
“It just made the whole weekend take on its own special aura of gratitude and love and appreciation,” said Huckel-Bauer.