The first two witnesses in the trial of a Tennessee truck driver charged with causing the death of two Knox County residents gave emotional, harrowing testimony Tuesday, Jan. 23, about the fatal crash.

Tracy Cook of Union said he was coming home from work after picking up food from an Augusta Chinese restaurant when he encountered a tractor-trailer with the cab in the oncoming lane and the trailer in his lane.

"I thought, I'm hosed," Cook said of what went through his mind as he attempted to avoid the vehicle by going off into a field on Route 17 near the intersection with Fitch Road.

Cook said the next thing he recalled was being trapped in his vehicle with a woman telling him that help was on the way.

On trial is Randall Junior Weddle, 55, who was indicted in June 2016 on two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of driving to endanger and eight counts of various trucking rule violations. Those violations include false record-keeping, driving while fatigued, driving while using alcohol and driving while possessing alcohol.

The trial is expected to extend into next week in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland.

The March 18, 2016, crash in Washington claimed the lives of 45-year-old Christina Torres-York of Warren and 74-year-old Paul Fowles of Owls Head.

Cook suffered two broken ribs, a broken wrist, broken collarbone and a concussion. He was released from the hospital the following day, but missed six weeks of work and said he did not regain full use of his wrist for six to seven months.

Cook was the second witness. The first was Tracy Morgan of Washington. Morgan was on her way home from work in Augusta and going to see her children at their daycare.

She said that as she came upon a curve, she saw wood flying off the back of a tractor-trailer that was approaching her.

Morgan said she drove into a field on the right, struck a car in front of her and continued driving until she felt she was a safe distance from the trailer and flying wood.

She recounted the horror of seeing one vehicle covered with wood that initially was smoking, but then burst into flames. She said she and other people couldn't get close to the vehicle because of the heat.

Morgan said she came upon another vehicle with an injured man inside and she told him to hang on and that help was on its way.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said Weddle had no respect for the law, no respect for other drivers and no respect for humanity.

Weddle, of Greeneville, Tenn., has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland in lieu of $100,000 cash bail since his arrest in May 2016.

Baroody pointed out that a blood alcohol test taken from Weddle at the scene of the crash was 0.09 and one taken at the hospital in Augusta was 0.073.

Under Maine law, a person is considered to be operating under the influence if his or her blood alcohol level is 0.08 or greater. Federal law says a commercial driver is under the influence if his or her blood alcohol level is 0.04 or greater.

Two emergency medical technicians who testified Tuesday said they detected the odor of alcohol when they were with Weddle following the crash,

The prosecutor said Weddle's nephew, who was a passenger in the truck, loaded the tractor trailer at a lumber yard in Searsmont. Weddle stayed in the cab and had a drink or two, Baroody said. A half drank bottle of Crown Royal whiskey was recovered from the driver's side of the passenger truck after the crash.

"Then he drove like a bat out of hell," Baroody said.

Data later downloaded from the truck's engine control module recorded the truck as traveling at 81 mph shortly before the crash and 73 mph when the crash occurred.

Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt said in his opening statement that it was natural for people to try to point a finger and assign blame after a tragedy. He told jurors their job was to determine if the state proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said the million-dollar question will be to determine what happened and that the state must prove there was no other explanation for the crash.

Other witnesses to the truck speeding, including truck driver Troy Packard, acknowledged under questioning by Pratt that since the accident the Maine Department of Transportation has made improvements to the stretch of road where the crash occurred including safety signs.

Kevin Curry testified the stretch is a common places for crashes.

The third witness on Tuesday was Duane Wright of Washington, who said a tractor-trailer pulled out in front of him and other drivers in Union, and he initially thought this would delay his trip home, but that the tractor-trailer sped off and the last he saw was shielded by dust similar to when a helicopter lands.

He turned off Route 17 and soon learned of the crash.

On Monday, the defense team of Pratt, Christopher McLean and Laura Shaw of Camden tried unsuccessfully to get results of the blood tests thrown out, as well as results of the electronic control module in the truck driven by Weddle.

The renewed attempt to suppress the blood test taken at the crash scene came in the wake of a federal judge's ruling Jan. 17 that said a blood draw taken from Cushing fishing boat captain Christopher Hutchinson to test for drugs could not be used at his trial that begins next month. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby led Weddle's defense team to ask Maine Superior Court Justice William Stokes to reconsider the admissibility of the blood test done on Weddle at the crash scene.

A hearing was held Monday in Knox County Superior Court on the Weddle defense efforts to suppress the blood test.

In the federal case, Hornby ruled that federal investigators failed to get a warrant from the court to obtain the blood sample and there were no exigent circumstances requiring the test to be taken before a warrant was obtained. The government also did not have probable cause for the draw at the time it was taken, Hornby ruled.

There was also no warrant for the blood test from Weddle at the scene of the truck crash. But Stokes said the facts surrounding the Hutchinson case and the Weddle case were different, in that he determined there were exigent circumstances following the truck crash.

"This was a double-fatality scene that was truly chaotic," he said.

He said he based his ruling on state law and prior Maine Supreme Judicial Court rulings. He added that the Supreme Court might have to settle the matter.

Stokes also rejected the request to exclude the results of the electronic control module from the engine of the truck. The defense had argued that the technician who read the results did not know the coding for the system and could not verify that the readings were reliable.

The speed limit is 55 mph on that section of Route 17.

The defense team for Weddle has also asked that the blood test taken at the hospital not be used, because of questions about the chain of custody of the sample. Stokes also rejected that request, but said the defense can challenge the veracity of the evidence before jurors.

Police reported in an affidavit filed in court in 2016 that Weddle’s driver's license had been earlier revoked in Virginia. He also had his license suspended in Louisiana.

Weddle told both officers that he had not been feeling well and thought he had a cold or flu. He said he had taken a drug called Lortab. That drug contains hydrocodone, according to court documents.

Weddle said he had come from Tennessee and made a delivery in Boston before coming to Maine to pick up lumber at Robbins Lumber in Searsmont. Weddle was traveling back to Tennessee to deliver the load when the crash occurred.

Weddle was driving west on Route 17 near Fitch Road in a 1998 Freightliner when the rig veered into the eastbound lane, according to police. Fowles was driving east in a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado and was the first vehicle in line hit by the truck.

The trailer and load of lumber then struck a 1998 Chrysler van that was behind Fowles, driven by Torres-York. The van was pushed into a nearby field and burst into flames.

The state initially offered Weddle a 30-year prison sentence with all but 20 years suspended, an offer rejected by the Tennessee man. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years.