June 18, 2013

Maine police: Cyclist probably fell into truck

Evidence indicates the rider was killed when he lost his balance while sipping water, police say.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The driver of the tractor-trailer, left, who the police believe was involved in the fatal accident in Hanover, looks on as his truck is inspected by police in Rumford on Friday, June 14, 2013. The bike involved in the collision is leaning against the vehicle.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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David LeClair, 23, is shown in an undated photo from the Athena Health corporate team web page.

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Although it has not been confirmed by video, witnesses told police that there was westbound traffic at the time, which would have limited how wide a berth the truck could have given the cyclists.

Police used video from a nearby business and the Rumford police cruiser that was first on the scene to confirm that the truck involved was the one that police stopped.

The video showed traffic on the road before and after the truck passed, confirming that police stopped the truck that witnesses described, Grzyb said.

Police say it's unlikely that charges will be filed against the driver of the truck, Michel Masse-DeFresne, 24, of Quebec, but the results of the investigation will be turned over for the Oxford County district attorney to review when it is completed, in about a month.

Masse-Defresne has no record of driving violations in Maine, according to the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The province of Quebec does not allow public access to a person's driving record, according to a website maintained by the province.

The company that the truck was being driven for, Transport Beauregard, has not had a crash with injuries within the past two years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

But the rate at which Beauregard's drivers and vehicles have been taken out of service exceeds national averages, according to the administration's website. 

Out of 11 drivers inspected over the two years, one was stopped for safety reasons, because the person had exceeded the allowable hours behind the wheel.

Of eight trucks inspected, two were taken out of service because of violations, the agency said. Neither one was the truck involved in Friday's accident. The agency had no records of violations involving that truck.

The company is operating under a conditional status after a compliance review in January 2012. The violations all occurred in the U.S.

It was not clear whether the truck involved in Friday's accident is owned by Transport Beauregard or another entity. A person who answered the phone Monday at Transport Beauregard said the owner, Serge Beauregard, was out of the office and was the only person authorized to talk.

Companies often hire trucks from other companies to haul loads; the trucks' owners are responsible for their maintenance, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Will Schaefer, who heads vehicle programs for the Maryland-based Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said he is familiar with the effects of wind created by a passing vehicle, and is an avid cyclist.

"When any vehicle is traveling down the road, it has to displace the air and push the air out to go through it," said Schaefer.

"At the back of the vehicle, after it goes by, the air is going to fill in behind it, and a lot of times behind a truck there is a lot of turbulence," he said. "That turbulence, I don't believe, in and of itself would draw a cyclist under the rear wheels, for example, but it could have some impact on the cyclist if he is not paying attention. It is something that would have an impact on any vehicle, including a cyclist passing by, if the (truck) was close enough."

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com 

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