Biker crashed while speeding, passing vehicles

Posted June 18, 2009, at 8:52 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Kondwa Chalila was speeding on his motorcycle along Griffin Road, passing other vehicles, when he came upon an out-of-state car turning left and miscalculated, crashed into it and died Wednesday evening.

The Bangor man was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, police say.

Chalila is the 54th person to die on Maine highways this year, and the seventh to die in a motorcycle accident, Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said Thursday.

Chalila, 41, was riding his 1997 Suzuki PL 1000 alone and westbound when the crash occurred around 7:45 p.m. near the new Bangor Fire Department’s Station 6. He had just passed two cars in the double-yellow lined roadway and was attempting to pass a third when the crash occurred, Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a statement.

“Chalila hit the rear end of that vehicle as it was making a slow left turn into a gravel lot,” he said.

Nicolas Robbins of Indiana, the driver of the Toyota Camry involved in the accident, and a passenger, whose name was not released, were not injured when their vehicle was rear-ended, Bangor police Officer John Robinson said from the scene.

Speed was a factor, Robinson said. Tests are being conducted to see whether alcohol or drugs were involved, Edwards said Thursday.

The number of motorcycle deaths in Maine actually dropped from 23 in 2007 to just 18 last year, Michelle Ward, Bureau of Highway Safety fatal accident system analysis, said Thursday.

The number of highway fatalities also has dropped from 73 on this date last year, to the 54 figure, she said.

“Something is working,” she said.

High speeds and no helmet use are associated with many of the motorcycle-related deaths in Maine, and use of alcohol or drugs and inexperienced drivers also are big factors, Wade said. Of the 18 who died on motorcycles last year in Maine, five had helmets on, and two of the seven motorcyclists who died so far this year had helmets on, she said.

While the number of motorcycle fatalities has dropped this year, the number of registered motorcycles in Maine has jumped by about 18,350 between 2002 and 2007, according to figures on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Web site.

In 2002, 32,037 motorcycles were registered for use in Maine, and six years later in 2008 the figure jumped to 50,383. There was an increase of 4,350 in just the last year, Ward said.

Because motorcycle use in Maine is seasonal, July is the deadliest month, with June second on the list and August third, according to the Maine Motorcycle Crashes report for 2003-06, issued in May.

Bangor Police Department accident reconstruction specialists were at the Griffin Road crash scene Wednesday night, and along with the department’s Criminal Investigations Division are trying to determine the official cause, Edwards said.

Those who witnessed the crash are asked to call Bangor police Detective Kerry Warner at 947-7382.

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