AUGUSTA — A Pittston man died Sunday evening after a motorcycle he was driving along Stone Street went into the opposite lane and struck a car head-on, police said.

The man, James K. Bickford Jr., 51, was driving the motorcycle south on Stone Street, and the crash happened near the intersection of Cross Street, just below Cony Circle, Sgt. Daniel Boivin said Monday. It was reported at 6:19 p.m.

After working in construction for many years, Bickford was a self-employed handyman who “from a young age loved anything to do with motors,” his 25-year-old son, Nic Bickford, said in an interview Monday.

“I was with him three hours before the accident,” Nic Bickford said. “The last thing he said to me was, ‘I love you kid, and I’m proud of you.’ That will always stick with me. No matter how long the conversations were, he always said he loved me.”

Two people were in the Ford Fiesta that collided with the motorcycle on Stone Street. Both people in the car were taken to the hospital for complaints of pain, including its driver, Wendall F. Wheeler, 70, of Dresden, according to Boivin.

The crash is still under investigation, and police did not immediately have more information about its possible causes. The officer who investigated the accident was out on Monday, and Boivin did not know whether James Bickford died at the scene of the crash or later.

Nic Bickford, said his father would often take his motorcycles on long rides. In recent years, he liked to ride Harley Davidson bikes, and he’d often head to Rangeley. He grew up in the Gardiner area, where many knew him as Jim.

While Nic Bickford’s parents were not together, he said they remained “very close” as he and his younger sister, Kristina Rose-Marie Bickford, grew up, and that James Bickford was attentive to family and friends.

“He would help people for little to nothing,” Nic Bickford said. “He could work on anything. He could build anything. He could fix anything.

“I’d want to people to remember how unconditionally caring he was to the people around him, family or not.”

Nic Bickford recalled one interaction when his wife was giving birth to their baby daughter who is now 4 months old, and James Bickford offered him some encouraging words during a conversation in the waiting room.

“He was always a person I could go talk to, with my baby and marriage,” Nic Bickford said. “He always told me not to sweat the small things and do right by your family.”

The fatal crash comes following a recent spate of deadly accidents in Maine.

In September, at least eight motorcyclists died in accidents across the state, and almost half of those deaths were in Augusta. On Sept. 10, two motorcyclists died on Interstate 95 while participating in the United Bikers Toy Run of Maine, and on Sept. 27, a Hallowell man died after losing control of a motorcycle while exiting Interstate 95.

Authorities say this has also been a relatively deadly year for Maine motorcyclists, with fatal accidents involving motorcycles occurring at about the same rate, 2.6 per month, as they did in 2015, according to Maine crash data.

In 2015, the state saw 31 fatal accidents involving motorcycles, which was the highest that number has been in the 14 years for which data is available online.

But the available data doesn’t necessarily suggest a trend: that number dropped to 20 in 2016, before picking up to the 26 so far this year. And 2013 and 2014 each saw about a dozen fatal accidents involving motorcycles, which was the lowest that number has been in 14 years.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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