March 16, 2010

Curve where biker died has history of accidentsCONTINUED FROM THE FRONT PAGE/LOCAL/NATION

DENNIS HOEY

— By

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Monday, July 7, 2008. Scene of fatal motorcycle accident (7/6/2008) at the intersection of Rt. 114 and the Burnell Rd. in Naples.

Staff Writer

The sharp, sloping curve on Route 114 in Naples where Rochelle Plummer was killed Sunday afternoon has been the scene of eight crashes since 2003, including an accident that claimed the life of a Saint Joseph's College student.

Although the location -- Burnell Road and Route 114 -- does not qualify as a high-crash site under state criteria, Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Latti said his agency plans to re-evaluate the road to determine whether any changes are needed.

''We will take a look at this location to see if there is anything we can do to improve safety,'' Latti said Tuesday.

Plummer died Sunday when the motorcycle she was operating went into a ditch as she and six other motorcyclists tried to avoid hitting a van that had stopped to make a left turn onto Burnell Road.

The bikers were friends, and several of them worked in the public safety field, including Cumberland County dispatcher Mathew Magill and sheriff's deputy Samuel Cofone.

The 43-year-old Plummer, a school bus driver, died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office.

Officials said she was not wearing a helmet.

Plummer was the wife of William Plummer, a captain with the Gray Fire Department.

Capt. Jeff Davis, head of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department Patrol Division, said it will take several more days before accident reconstructionists can determine whether speed was a factor in the crash.

''It is what it is, a winding, weaving road,'' said Davis, who has driven his motorcycle on that stretch of road. ''It's a tough area to drive on.''

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion said the speed limit on the section of Route 114 where the curve is located is posted at 40 mph.

Blood-alcohol test results, conducted on all the drivers, might not be available for several more weeks, Dion said.

One of the bikers, Joseph Kashinsky, 56, of Windham, who had to be airlifted to Maine Medical Center after Sunday's crash, was listed in satisfactory condition on Tuesday.

Since 2003, Latti said 50 crashes have occurred on the five-mile stretch of Route 114 between the Naples and Sebago town line and Route 302 in downtown Naples.

College student John Queenan, 19, was killed on Aug. 28, 2003, when he was a passenger in a car that went off the road at the curve where Plummer died. Latti said speed and driver inattention were determined to be the causes of that fatal crash.

Despite the deaths and the number of accidents, Latti said Burnell Road and Route 114 do not qualify as a high-accident location by state criteria -- eight or more crashes over a three-year period.

That, however, will not prevent the state from reassessing the road. A warning sign for a sharp curve is already posted there, directing motorists to stay right.

In the meantime, Gray's fire department is still trying to recover from Plummer's death. Her husband has been a firefighter for more than 30 years, and she was involved in many department activities.

Fire Chief Ricky Plummer said he has been making arrangements for other towns to cover Gray's fire calls on Thursday, when his department plans to attend Plummer's memorial service -- set for 2 p.m. at the Gray-New Gloucester High School gym -- and also attend the funeral of Hazel Cole.

Cole, 93, married Norman Cole, the founder and owner of the landmark restaurant Cole Farms, and she was well-known in town.

The department plans to hold a reception for Plummer at the fire station after her funeral.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at

dhoey@pressherald.com

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