WINTHROP — A local man was killed Thursday and two others flown to a Lewiston hospital after a crash on U.S. Route 202.
Napoleon Richard St. Laurent, 80, was pronounced dead after his van was hit from behind by a box truck near the Royal Street intersection, said Police Chief Joseph Young.
St. Laurent’s passenger, his wife, 74-year-old Patricia St. Laurent, was flown to Central Maine Medical Center with serious injuries, Young said.
Jeffrey Ray, 44, of Scarborough, who was driving the box truck, was taken by a second LifeFlight helicopter to CMMC with serious injuries.
The section of U.S. 202 was closed for sbout four hours as traffic was diverted onto Main Street.
The crash occurred shortly before 9 a.m., as the St. Laurents’ 1996 Ford E-150 van was stopped in the eastbound lane waiting to make a left turn onto Royal Street. Ray, driving a 2007 Mitsubishi box truck east on U.S. 202, hit the van from behind, Young said. The impact pushed both vehicles into the right-side guard rail and down the road before coming to rest against the guardrail, Young said.
Both Patricia St. Laurent and Ray had to be cut from their vehicles. Both were rushed to meet a helicopter at the landing zone in the parking lot of NotifyMD at the former Carleton Woolen Mill.
Young said neither of the St. Laurents was wearing a seat belt. Investigators are still trying to determine if Ray was belted in.
The van, owned by JA & Sons, an automotive repair business in Winthrop that St. Laurent owned with his son, was totaled. The box truck, owned by Lewiston-based Pure-Stat Technologies, also was destroyed.
Maine State Police were called to reconstruct the crash. Winthrop firefighters, Monmouth Rescue and Police and the Maine Department of Transportation responded to the crash, Young said.
Nobody has been charged in the crash, which remains under investigation. Investigators have not yet determined what caused it.
“I don’t know what the underlying cause is at this point,” Young said. “I can’t tell you whether speed had anything to do with this accident.”
The crash occurred just two days after three people were injured in a crash on the same road near D.R. Struck Landscaping Nursery. None of the injuries were serious. That crash occurred when a driver in the eastbound lane was making a left turn onto Pineland Drive and turned in front of a westbound vehicle.
There have been hundreds of crashes on U.S. Route 202 in Winthrop and Monmouth over the past several years, according the state statistics. Those records show 57 crashes on the road in Winthrop in 2013 and 51 in 2012. In Monmouth, immediately west, there have been 20 crashes on the highway this year and 13 in 2012. There were a total of 192 crashes on the road in Winthrop from 2008 to 2011 and another 55 in Monmouth on U.S. 202 during the same time period.
Not including Thursday’s, three people have died in three separate crashes on the road since 2006, two in Winthrop and one in Monmouth. “It’s been a while (before Thursday’s) since we’ve had a fatal on Route 202,” Young said.
Many of the Winthrop crashes occurred at the intersection of Main Street, where the east and westbound lanes are split and there are two eastbound lanes for merging traffic to navigate.
“We’ve had a considerable number up there,” Young said.
The state Department of Transportation is considering several options to curb accidents in Winthrop, Young said. Those include reducing the speed limit through town, adding center line rumble strips to reduce the likelihood of a head-on crash — the last fatal crash in Winthrop was a head-on collision in August 2012 — and adding a flashing yellow light at the South Road intersection.
The rumble strips and the yellow light would help ward off distracted driving, which Young said causes many of the crashes on the road.
“I think most of the time it’s been driver inattention,” he said.
Craig Crosby — firstname.lastname@example.org