Police say it now appears that a sport utility vehicle driven by a Livermore man was headed east and crossed the centerline of Route 202 in the accident that killed a Winthrop father and son Tuesday.

The conclusion reverses earlier statements about which vehicle crossed the centerline in the head-on collision. The accident occurred about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in Leeds.

Initial reports, based on an eyewitness interview, were that Ghislain “Gus” Cloutier, 49, and his son Casey Cloutier were eastbound in a 2007 Honda Accord that crossed the centerline and struck a westbound 2003 Ford Explorer.

The Explorer was driven by Ralph D. Ryder Jr., 59, of Livermore, who was injured in the crash.

Ryder was reported in good condition Wednesday at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. A phone message seeking his condition Friday was not returned.

Lt. Glenn Holt of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement Friday that the investigation revealed that “the preliminary information that we had released on the day of the accident was inaccurate.”

He said it’s now clear Gus Cloutier was driving west, and Ryder east, and Ryder was the one who crossed the centerline, not Cloutier.

Holt said that “the reconstruction process, as well as the re-interview of the witness and other interviews of the accident investigation” made investigators reach the new conclusion.

Maine State Police Trooper Daniel Hanson, who was called to reconstruct the crash, said initial information given him was that a witness reported Cloutier was heading east and Ryder heading west.

“There was very little when it came to physical evidence, some gouge marks in the roadway and fluid and some debris,” Hanson said.

However, he said that physical evidence was inconsistent with what the witness had reported.

“The only likely scenario I saw was that vehicles were in opposite places,” Hanson said Friday. “The SUV crossed into the other lane and they were traveling opposite the direction that the witness stated.”

Hanson said he was working with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department, including its primary investigator on the crash, Sgt. Brian Smith.

The Cloutiers were headed from their Winthrop home to catch a bus in Auburn so Casey, 14, a student at St. Dominic Academy, could attend a hockey tournament.

Hanson said Ryder was interviewed and said he had been in Lewiston and was headed to an appointment in Augusta. In that case, the Cloutier vehicle was likely to be heading west and the Ryder vehicle east.

“We still don’t know why it happened,” Hanson said, adding that a final report could be weeks away. He said there was no indication why the eastbound vehicle would have crossed the centerline.

Both Holt and Hanson said the investigation is continuing.

Hanson also said the witness might have been mistaken because the crash was a traumatic event that happened so quickly.

“I believe the witness felt that’s what they saw but mistook what they saw because it happened so fast,” he said.

The speed limit is 50 mph on the section of the road where the accident occurred.

A memorial Mass for the Cloutiers is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Francis Xavier Church, 130 Route 133 in Winthrop, according to Knowlton Hewins Roberts Funeral Homes & Cremation Service.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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