November 6, 2013

Orono man dies after rear-ending school bus

The three high school students and driver on the bus escape injury in the Augusta crash.

By CRAIG CROSBY Kennebec Journal
The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — An Orono man was killed Tuesday when a pickup truck ran into the back of a school bus on Riverside Drive.

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A tow truck lifts a school bus off a pickup truck as emergency crews work to free the pickup truck driver at the scene of a crash involving a school bus Tuesday on Riverside Drive in Augusta.

Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Nobody on the bus, which was carrying three students and the driver, was injured, said Augusta police Lt. Christopher Massey.

The truck driver, Herbert LeBreton, 60, of Orono, was taken by a LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. LeBreton later died of his injuries, Massey said.

The crash occurred around 2:15 p.m. in the area of 860 Riverside Drive, south of the Stevens Road intersection, and between two construction sites associated with the ongoing gas line project. The 2013 First Student bus, driven by Jessica Kanaris, 39, of Augusta, was stopped in traffic when LeBreton’s 2013 Chevy Silverado slammed into the back of the bus. The impact wedged the front of the pickup under the bus up to the windshield.

LeBreton was trapped in the truck as rescue crews worked to free him from the crumpled wreck. Part of that process included using a wrecker to lift the back of the bus off the front of the truck. The LifeFlight helicopter landed in the yard of a nearby home.

The crash investigation is continuing, Massey said. It is unclear what caused LeBreton’s truck to hit the back of the bus.

An automated voice message sent to Augusta parents said the driver and three Cony High School students were not injured in the crash. The same message indicated that elementary bus runs were being delayed because of the crash.

The section of Riverside Drive where the accident occurred was shut down for about two hours, and traffic flow was limited to one lane for another two hours, Massey said. Traffic was re-routed onto Stevens Road and Church Hill Road back to Route 3, but still backed up on Riverside Drive.

The school bus was damaged and had to be towed away, Massey said.

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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