Police Monday said that a 15-month-old toddler remains in critical condition from a crash in which a pickup truck hit a family bicycling in Biddeford on Friday evening.
The 15-month-old, identified by police as Lavarice Elliott, was in critical condition as of 10 p.m. Sunday, police said in a statement Monday morning.
His father, Jamerico Elliott, 51, of Saco, also remains in critical condition. The baby’s mother, Melodie Brennan, 30, was treated for injuries and released from the hospital.
Police say the investigation into the cause of the crash will not be completed any time soon. The accident reconstruction process takes time, blood alcohol tests won’t be complete until at least the end of the week and police will be seeking a search warrant to obtain the “black box” from the vehicle which records the speed and other factors immediately before the crash, police said.
The driver of the pickup truck that struck the three bicyclists said in a telephone interview that he fainted just before he hit the riders.
“It’s awful. It’s a terrible feeling I have. It makes me sick to my stomach,” David Labonte, 56, of Kennebunkport said Sunday night.
A man who witnessed part of the crash claims that Labonte must have been driving at least 55 mph to have caused the extent of damage that his truck inflicted on the bicyclists and a parked pickup truck.
Labonte said he suffers from asthma but is not being treated for the condition because he does not have health insurance. Labonte said he does not use an inhaler, which asthmatics use to clear their airways when they are experiencing respiratory distress.
Labonte said he had suffered through a severe coughing attack prior to the accident. He said he was feeling light-headed and dizzy minutes before he crossed the centerline of U.S. Route 1 and hit the bicyclists.
“I had a really bad coughing attack and I fainted,” Labonte, a painting contractor, said Sunday night.
Labonte said he had worked on a job earlier in the day and had run a few errands and was on his way home when he passed out. Labonte declined to go into more details about the incident.
Biddeford police said Labonte’s pickup truck, a blue Ford F-150, was headed north on Route 1 around 6 p.m. Friday when he crossed the centerline and entered the parking lot of the RepubliCash and Western Union store at 364 Elm St. Route 1 in Biddeford is also known as Elm Street.
Elliott, who was carrying his son in a bike seat, and Brennan were riding their bikes south on a sidewalk in front of the store when Labonte’s truck struck them. Labonte’s truck continued on, hitting a parked pickup truck with such force that a granite foundation was pushed into a nearby apartment building.
Three people, including a 3-year-old boy, were inside the parked pickup truck, but none of them was seriously injured.
Biddeford Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk said police will seek a court order to look at the black box inside Labonte’s truck. That box should be able to tell them how fast he was going. Fisk said the posted speed limit in that stretch of Route 1 is 35 mph.
Fisk said there were no tire marks on the street, an indication that Labonte did not use his brakes or did not hit them hard.
Labonte, whose truck has been impounded, was also given a blood-alcohol test, which is standard in accidents as severe as the one Friday evening. The results from that test probably won’t be known for another week, Fisk said.
The York County District Attorney’s Office sent a representative to the crash scene but as of Sunday no charges had been filed.
“There are no quick answers for this type of accident,” Fisk said Sunday night. “It could take weeks for us to reconstruct.”
Though there was some initial confusion about Elliott and Brennan’s relationship, Fisk said investigators told her they are married and that the toddler is their son. Brennan could not be reached Sunday.
Victor Dorais Jr. of Windham witnessed part of the crash. Dorais, who works at an engraving company in Biddeford, said he was cashing a check at RepubliCash and was just exiting the store when he saw Labonte’s pickup truck ram the rear end of the parked pickup truck. The impact lifted the pickup truck up and spun it sideways. After that the scene became chaotic, he said.
The parked truck, a Chevrolet Silverado Z71, belongs to his son, 25-year-old Christopher Martin of Buxton. Martin was waiting in the truck along with Martin’s 3-year-old son, Thomas, and Dorais’ wife, Earlene Dorais.
“They were sitting in the truck, waiting for me to cash my check,” Dorais recalled during an interview Sunday night.
Dorais rushed toward his son’s vehicle, stepping around Elliott and his child, who Dorais said were curled up on the ground unconscious. The child’s bike helmet “was mangled” and had fallen off the boy’s head.
Dorais said his first thought was to check on the well-being of his family, and especially his grandson.
His wife banged her head and bruised her ribs but was not seriously injured. His son, who has a sore back, and grandson, who has been having nightmares since the crash, were not seriously injured.
Dorais said he saw another woman help Brennan out of the flatbed of Labonte’s truck. Dorais said she must have been thrown into the back of the truck by the impact.
Photographs taken by Dorais and provided to the Portland Press Herald show the destruction caused by the crash.
The rear end of Martin’s truck was crushed and the child’s bike seat was pinned under Labonte’s truck. It would appear that Elliott’s bicycle was severed in half.
“He (Labonte) was doing highway speed (55 mph) for sure,” said Dorais, a former truck driver. “To push my son’s truck as far as he did, he must have been.”
Dorais did not approach Labonte but noticed that Labonte seemed to be slumped forward. He never got out of the truck.
“He did not look like he was moving, but I am not sure if he was unconscious,” Dorais said.
Several passers-by, including a doctor and a nurse, tended to the victims until city emergency personnel arrived. Fisk said the doctor and nurse left the scene before authorities could get their names.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: