BIDDEFORD — The parents of David Labonte, the pickup truck driver charged with manslaughter and aggravated drunk driving in a crash that killed a 51-year-old man, said Friday — amid expressions of sorrow and sympathy for Jamerico Elliott and his family — that they believed their son had stopped drinking.

“I was really impressed with how good he was doing,” said Paul Labonte, hours before his son was arrested and charged in connection with the accident that killed Elliott and left his 17-month-old son Lavarice Elliott in critical condition. Labonte is scheduled to appear in Springvale District Court Monday to be formally charged with killing Elliott and possibly to ask that his $100,000 bail be lowered.

Elliott died Wednesday, five days after Labonte’s uninsured pickup smashed into Elliott’s bicycle. Lavarice, who was riding in a child seat on the back of the bike, remained in critical condition Friday at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The truck also hit Melodie Brennan, the boy’s mother, who was riding on her bicycle and sustained a broken ankle.

York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery said Friday that a blood sample taken from Labonte three hours after the crash as part of a search warrant – after he refused to voluntarily supply one – showed a blood alcohol content of 0.15. A test taken by Southern Maine Medical Center, where Labonte was taken after the accident and also obtained through a search warrant, showed a blood alcohol content of 0.17, she said.

A blood alcohol content of .08 is considered drunken driving in Maine. Labonte was driving on a conditional license, meaning he is not allowed to have any alcohol in his system. He has four prior OUIs on his driving record.


In addition to manslaughter, Labonte was charged with aggravated operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, according to Biddeford police, who arrested Labonte at his parents’ home Friday. He had been staying with them recently to save money, his parents said.

Labonte met with his attorney earlier on Friday, his parents said. They did not know his attorney’s name.

Paul Labonte, sitting next to his wife Anita, said his family is anguished over Elliott’s death.

“I can’t sleep at night. We feel terrible,” he said. “That man is gone. The little baby…,” he said, shaking his head slowly. He didn’t finish the sentence.

Their son also feels awful and wishes he could go back in time and undo his actions, Paul Labonte said.

“There isn’t anything more we can say or do,” he said. “This man is gone.”


Labonte was raised in a successful, respected family. Paul Labonte owned a local hotel and dispatched buses for the school department, officials said. They live in one of Biddeford’s newer and attractive neighborhoods on the west side of town.

The younger Labonte has always been somewhat of a black sheep all his life, “never catching a break” his father said, even though his three siblings have all done well.

“He seemed to be doing really good – wasn’t drinking. But I guess the blood work shows he was,” Paul Labonte said. “If he did it, he’ll pay the price.”

The day of the accident, David Labonte had come home from work, showered and then told his parents he was going to help a friend in Cape Porpoise move a dock.

“He’s really a great guy – give you anything,” his father said. Paul Labonte believes that around his friends, his son grew weak, and joined them in drinking, despite his problems with alcohol.

A motorist who passed David Labonte’s truck on Friday, moments before the accident, said the driver appeared to be asleep at the wheel, according to a police affidavit.


Labonte’s blue Ford pickup crossed the center line and two lanes of oncoming traffic before colliding with Elliott’s and Brennan’s bicycles.

Witnesses, including an off-duty Kennebunk police lieutenant, said Labonte did not try to avoid the crash, according to a police affidavit submitted to Biddeford District Court in support of a search warrant. There were no skid marks at the scene that would have indicated Labonte tried to brake.

Witnesses said Labonte was going at or slightly above the 35 mph speed limit and almost hit an oncoming car, the affidavit said. The driver of that car looked into Labonte’s truck cab and saw that his head was down. She then watched in her rearview mirror as he crossed the road and hit the cyclists.

Labhonte’s truck then hit a parked pickup, leaving one of the passengers inside, Earlene Dorais, 54, with a cut on her wrist that required treatment.

The police affidavit, written by Officer Andrew Allaire, was in support of search warrants to obtain medical records and blood drawn by the hospital as well as to compel Labonte to provide a blood sample to test for alcohol.

Labonte initially refused to provide a blood sample, according to the affidavit.


The crash occurred at 6 p.m. Aug. 2, in front of 364 Elm St. as the family was on their regular bicycle ride. Lavarice Elliott was wearing a helmet, although his parents were not, the affidavit said.

The affidavit says the helmet was mangled on the ground.

When police arrived, father and son were barely breathing and both were badly scraped and bleeding from the collision and the impact with the asphalt parking lot, the affidavit said.

Labonte was still in the truck when emergency responders arrived. He said his chest hurt and he worried he was having a heart attack, the affidavit said. Rescue workers treated him and he was taken to Southern Maine Medical Center.

Labonte told a Portland Press Herald reporter over the weekend that he had been having problems with his asthma, had been coughing and fainted. He was returning home from a painting job.

Allaire said in the affidavit that he could smell no alcohol, possibly because of the dust in the air from Labonte’s airbag, which deployed. He also noted Labonte did not appear impaired. However, rescue workers did report signs of impairment, the affidavit said, although it did not elaborate.


Allaire said that in the cab of the truck, he found a cooler with what appeared to be the remains of Labonte’s lunch and an unopened can of Bud Light.

Paul Labonte said he was not disputing police conclusions, but said the cooler belonged to a friend of his son with whom he goes fishing. He was not sure why someone else’s cooler would have been left in Labonte’s truck.

Paul Labonte said he and his wife were afraid, when they arrived at the hospital to see their son, that he was indeed having a heart attack, since he had had one in the past. The hospital assured them that he had not had a heart attack.

While Labonte’s previous driving record, which included several speeding violations as well as the OUIs, has raised questions about why he still had a valid driver’s license, Slattery said the case does not suggest new laws are necessary.

“We have pretty good laws to deal with repeat offenders offenders,” she said. Over time, motorists’ privileges are restored – Labonte’s first drunk driving conviction was 30 years ago when he was in his 20s. Labonte’s violations “are pretty well spread out, which is why he wasn’t revoked,” Slattery said.

Labonte had no insurance on the car, a state requirement and one that would have been costly, given his driving record. Paul Labonte said his son’s insurance had recently lapsed and he was scheduled to meet with an insurance agent to get his rates lowered.

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