July 17, 2013

Police: driver inattention, not alcohol, likely cause of fatal New Sharon crash

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

NEW SHARON — Police on Wednesday said driver inattention was the likely cause of a fatal accident in May involving a truck and a tractor-trailer.

At the same time, police rescinded earlier statements that alcohol could have been a factor into the crash.

John Pelletier, 62, died after he pulled his truck out of his driveway and into the path of a tractor-trailer on May 9. Pelletier was taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington after the collision of his pickup truck and the tractor-trailer on U.S. Route 2.

In the early stages of the investigation, alcohol and a medical condition both were being considered by police as possible factors.

Now investigators are “strongly leaning against” the idea that alcohol or a medical condition played a role, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety. McCausland said that shift in investigators’ thinking was caused by preliminary information released from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

McCausland said Maine State Police have not completed the final crash report, but that it is now believed driver inattention was the top cause of the accident.

The unloaded tractor-trailer knocked the pickup driven by Pelletier into a ditch, causing massive damage to the front driver’s side of the pickup. He was pronounced dead the day after the accident.

Police said the driver of the tractor-trailer, owned by Phoenix Trucking Co. of Harmony, was not at fault and would not face criminal charges.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

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