Editor’s note: Police reversed their conclusion as to who was responsible for the accident that killed Gus and Casey Cloutier after this story was published.
A father and son from Winthrop with strong ties to the central Maine hockey community were killed Tuesday morning when their car collided head-on with a sport utility vehicle on U.S. Route 202 in Leeds.
Ghislain B. “Gus” Cloutier, 49, and his 14-year-old son, Casey Cloutier, died at the scene of the crash, said Lt. Glenn Holt of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.
Ralph D. Ryder, 59, of Livermore, who was alone in the second vehicle, was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he was in stable condition Tuesday afternoon, Holt said.
David Guthro, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, confirmed a student at Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn was killed Tuesday morning and police later confirmed the boy who died was Casey Cloutier.
Holt did not know where the Cloutiers were going. Guthro said they were on their way to hockey practice in Auburn when the crash occurred, but Holt said the pair was driving east toward Winthrop.
Guthro said a counselor met with the hockey team Tuesday morning. Counselors will be at St. Dom’s on Wednesday and on Monday.
“The prayers of Bishop (Robert) Deeley and the entire Diocese of Portland are with this family,” Guthro said.
Holt said the crash occurred around 8:15 a.m. at the intersection of Route 202 and Leeds Junction Road. Ghislain Cloutier, driving east in a 2007 Honda Accord, swerved into the westbound lane and collided head-on with Ryder’s 2003 Ford Explorer. The accident remains under investigation, but there was no initial indication of what caused Cloutier’s car to swerve.
A section of Route 202, a major thoroughfare between Lewiston and Augusta, was closed for about 3 1/2 hours as Androscoggin County Sheriff deputies and Maine State Police investigated. Cars were re-routed onto Leeds Junction Road in Leeds and Greene.
News of the crash spread quickly via social media around the high school sports community, specifically the hockey players and parents.
St. Dominic’s boys and girls basketball games scheduled for Tuesday night at Hall-Dale High School were postponed, according to St. Dom’s online sports schedule.
Hockey players and school organizations took to Twitter Tuesday to express condolences to @SDAHockey, which claims no official affiliation with Saint Dominic Academy.
One message said, “Today we lost a brother, thank you to everyone who is supporting us and the family, please keep them in your prayers.”
Thoughts came in via Twitter from hockey programs across the region.
Dave St. Hilaire, coach for the Winthrop/Monmouth high school football program, played in a men’s hockey league with Gus Cloutier and coached Casey Cloutier in hockey during middle school. Casey Cloutier also was a classmate of St. Hilaire’s son at Winthrop Middle School, where Casey Cloutier was an honor student until transferring to St. Dom’s for his freshman year so he could play in the private Catholic school’s highly-regarded hockey program.
Gus Cloutier and his wife, Susan Cloutier, have a son younger than Casey.
“They are a great family,” St. Hilaire said. “Casey is a super kid and his dad is super-family oriented.”
Casey Cloutier was a “tough kid” and a good skater.
“Casey was a super hockey player,” St. Hilaire said. “Hockey was one of their top priorities.”
Casey Cloutier, who has friends who play for the Maranacook/Winthrop Hawks hockey team, was a frequent spectator at the games. St. Hilaire last saw the father and son there Saturday night. He spent much of the game catching up with Gus Cloutier. Life seemed to be going really well for the Cloutier family, St. Hilaire said.
“It’s unfortunate,” St. Hilaire said. “It’s a sad day.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642