FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — A biathlete who was training with the Maine Winter Sports Center was killed Sunday evening after he was struck by a car in Fort Fairfield.
Fort Fairfield Police Chief Joseph Bubar said Monday that 19-year-old William “Willie” Neal, who resided in Jackson Hole, Wyo., before coming to Maine, was out roller-skiing with a training partner at around 8:30 p.m. when he was struck by a car driven by 18-year-old Erik Lundquist of Fort Fairfield.
The training partner was also a Maine Winter Sports Center athlete, and the two were training at the Nordic Heritage Sport Club in Presque Isle. The club is operated by the MWSC.
Bubar said that Lundquist was heading west on the North Caribou Road in a 1997 Eagle Talon when he came upon Neal, who was heading in the same direction.
Neal was struck from behind and killed, according to Bubar.
Neither Lundquist nor Neal’s training partner was injured.
The chief said that while the night was dim, darkness had not yet completely fallen when the accident occurred.
Lundquist reportedly had just graduated from high school.
Bubar said no further information could be released, citing the ongoing investigation.
Alcohol is not believed to have been involved, according to the chief.
The biathlon is a winter sport that combines Nordic skiing and rifle marksmanship.
Andy Shepard, president of the MWSC, said Neal was named to the MWSC Regional Biathlon Team last month.
The MWSC said in a press release Monday that investigators indicated the skiers were on the correct side of the road when the accident occurred.
Shepard described Neal in the release as a “talented young athlete” and a “smart and inquisitive young man.”
“He was a role model others looked up to and we were excited to have him join our program,” Shepard said in the release. “This is a devastating blow to the entire US nordic skiing family and on behalf of the volunteers, athletes, staff and board of the MWSC, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Neal family.”