The family of a Holden man who was killed by an antique fire truck in the 2013 July 4 parade is suing the driver of the truck, the city of Bangor and the civic group that organized that year’s parade.

Wallace Fenlason, 63, was driving an antique tractor in the parade just in front of a 1930 McCann fire truck driven by off-duty firefighter Patrick Heathcote, then 29.

The parade was rerouted at the last minute as police dealt with an armed standoff, which put the parade on a more hilly route.

As the vehicles rolled down Water Street, the tractor stopped, but the fire truck picked up speed. Heathcote was unable to stop it, even while jamming on the brakes.

Fenlason was ejected and landed in the road in the path of the fire truck, which rolled over him.

A Maine State Police investigation later revealed the truck did not have enough brake fluid and what it did have was contaminated, so the vehicle did not function properly.


Heathcote told police he had driven the truck the day before and that morning to make sure it was operating properly.

The state police report cleared Heathcote of any responsibility as the operator in the crash, but does not indicate who was responsible for the truck’s maintenance.

The truck is owned by the city, but in 1984 responsibility for its maintenance was assigned to the McCann Committee. The city attorney said at the time he could find no reference in city records to the McCann Committee after the written agreement.

A lawsuit was filed last week in Penobscot County Superior Court by Daniel Kagan, of the Lewiston firm Berman & Simmons, on behalf of Lorena Fenlason. It says Heathcote, the city and the Kiwanis Club of Bangor, which organized the parade, were negligent and responsible for Fenlason’s wrongful death. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for wrongful death and pain and suffering as well as punitive damages.

The suit alleges that Heathcote and the city were responsible for ensuring the fire truck was maintained properly before it was driven in the parade.

“Defendant Heathcote chose to operate the fire truck without meeting certain safety rules concerning vehicle maintenance that are designed to protect himself and others and prevent needless injury or harm to members of the community,” the suit says. It makes the same claim against the city of Bangor as Heathcote’s employer and the owner of the truck, and against Kiwanis Club of Bangor.


According to his obituary, Fenlason has family in Scarborugh, Saco and North Yarmouth.

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

Twitter: @Mainehenchman

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