After federal safety investigators cited the actions of the Augusta Police Department as a contributing factor in a 2017 fatal crash that killed two and injured seven, Augusta police Chief Jared Mills released a statement late Wednesday afternoon.

“The City of Augusta has reviewed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report regarding this tragic crash that occurred on September 10th, 2017. While the NTSB does not assign fault by their own disclaimer the City of Augusta has the utmost respect for NTSB and their mission of improving safety when it comes to all forms of transportation in the United States and their best practices will be applied to the City of Augusta’s operating procedures moving forward.”

Mills said the department will work on revising its procedures for handling events such as the Toy Run.

In its report, the NTSB had determined the probable cause of the crash was an unsafe maneuver by one of the motorcycle riders, who was one of about 3,000 motorcyclists taking part in the Toy Run. The ride’s route to the Windsor Fairgrounds started in the parking lot of the Augusta Civic Center and continued up Interstate 95 from exit 112 to exit 113, then across Route 3 to Route 132.

An investigation by Maine State Police ultimately concluded that Aaron White-Sevigny, 25, of Windsor, started the chain-reaction collision when he veered from the travel lane, where the motorcycles were, into the passing lane in front of a northbound pickup truck. The motorcycle was traveling about 25 mph, while the pickup was traveling at 56 mph.

State police investigate a crash in September 2017 that killed motorcyclists Jamie Gross, 58, of Belmont, and Aaron White-Sevigny, 25, of Windsor, on Interstate 95 in Augusta. The two were riding in the annual United Bikers Toy Run from Augusta to the Windsor Fairgrounds. Kennebec Journal file photo

The state police investigation showed that William Nusom, the driver of the pickup, tried to avoid hitting the motorcycle and steered into the guardrail in the median. He lost control of the truck, traveled across three lanes and struck other motorcycles before the truck went through the right guardrail, overturned and landed on its side.

Jamie Gross, 58, of Belmont, died at the scene. White-Sevigny died at the hospital.

In its own investigation, the NTSB concluded a factor contributing to the crash was the failure of both the Augusta Police Department and the United Bikers of Maine to identify and plan for the risk associated with routing a group motorcycle riders onto and off of an interstate highway without providing additional traffic control or state police oversight.

The report recommends that the city of Augusta “include in your city ordinances a requirement that all organizations seeking city approval to conduct a parade or special event involving roadway use create a safety plan that includes, at a minimum, the following elements: safe route selection, acquisition of all required permits, and hazard mitigation.”

Further, it recommends that the United Bikers of Maine “include in your group motorcycle riding event procedures a requirement to create a safety plan that includes, at a minimum, the following elements: safe route selection, acquisition of all required permits, and hazard mitigation.”

The report states that the NTSB does not assign fault or blame for an accident or incident. “Rather, as specified by NTSB regulation, ‘accident/incident investigations are fact-finding proceedings with no formal issues and no adverse parties … and are not conducted for the purpose of determining the rights or liabilities of any person.”

 

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