AUGUSTA — The deaths of two motorcyclists during the 2017 United Bikers of Maine Toy Run is prompting the city to consider new requirements for groups wanting to use city streets.

At their meeting Thursday, councilors will discuss adopting a new requirement that organizers of parades or other events on city streets submit a safety plan. That was a key recommendation of a National Transportation Safety Board report on that accident that also led to injuries for seven other people during the event.

The proposal from police Chief Jared Mills would add a requirement that to get a permit to hold a parade or other event on city streets organizers must submit a safety plan. That would need to include a safe route for the event, plans to deal with any hazards that may arise along the way, and evidence organizers have coordinated their plans with other stakeholders, such as the state Department of Transportation.

A NTSB report released earlier this year concluded the probable cause of a double-fatal crash on Interstate 95 during the 2017 version of the annual United Bikers of Maine’s Toy Run was an unsafe maneuver by one of the motorcyclists. But, the report also said a contributing factor was the failure of Augusta police and United Bikers to identify and plan for the risk of routing a large group of motorcyclists onto and off the interstate without providing additional traffic control or state police oversight.

In response to that report, Mills said the city would work to apply the best practices of safety to the city’s procedures and the department would revise its policies for handling events such as the Toy Run which take place on city streets.

Mills said Tuesday the proposed ordinance change is in direct response to the NTSB report and reflects and would make official the practices city police are already following. He said the changes are meant to improve safety at such events.


“It standardizes what we were already doing and provides a checklist to make sure all of the preparations for a parade are accomplished for safety,” Mills said. “The biggest thing is coordination with other stakeholders like DOT and mitigations for hazards that are identified during the event or from the route that is chosen.”

An estimated 3,000 motorcyclists took part in the 2017 ride. They assembled in the parking lot of the Augusta Civic Center before taking off on a route that took them onto I-95 northbound at exit 112, riding on the interstate for less than a mile; then leaving the interstate at exit 113 to continue to the Windsor Fairgrounds via routes 3 and 32.

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.

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

The report recommended 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.”

While the Augusta Police Department had coordinated with the state police to monitor the interstate segment in other years, the report notes, in 2017, it did not notify or coordinate with the state police.


The annual United Bikers of Maine ride has, for nearly four decades, brought in thousands of toys to be given to children in need in Maine. This year the Toy Run is still planned for Sept. 8 at the Augusta Civic Center but events will take place there, instead of having a group ride to the fairgrounds or another site. Sandy Lyle, a spokesman for United Bikers of Maine, said in a news release the format of the event may have changed but it’s purpose is still there. He said that purpose is bringing joy to kids who might otherwise not receive anything for the holiday season.

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal agency with the role of investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation including railroad, highway, marine and pipeline. The NTSB determines the probable cause of such accidents and issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents.

Councilors meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Discuss the future of train service in the city;

• discuss selling city-owned land on Anthony Avenue; and

• discuss whether to add a new site, on Arsenal Street, to the two others city officials are considering as potential locations where a proposed new police station could be built.

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