LINCOLN, Maine — Police blocked a section of downtown Lincoln for several hours Thursday morning as they investigated the death of a 55-year-old truck driver from Tennessee.
The entire block of Mechanic and Lake streets was cordoned off from about 3 a.m. until almost noon as state and town police investigators placed six evidence markers in a parking lot where the man was found lying on the ground. The parking lot serves Machias Savings Bank and the Penobscot Valley Hospital Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.
State police identified the man as Brian Steven Isdell of Mountain City, Tenn., but statements on the nature of his death were contradictory.
Lincoln Police Chief William Flagg said investigators regarded the death as suspicious, but Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, would not go as far in a brief interview later Thursday.
“We have not put it [this incident] in any category,” McCausland said.
He said today’s autopsy of the body, at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta, will be a key element in determining whether foul play occurred.
A town police officer found Isdell a short distance from his rig, which was parked in a downtown parking lot with the motor running and its lights on, at about 3 a.m., McCausland said. Isdell was rushed to Penobscot Valley Hospital, where he died.
McCausland and Flagg declined to say whether Isdell had any apparent wounds.
Isdell arrived in Lincoln during the night to make a delivery, apparently stopping at the bank parking lot, McCausland said. Mechanic Street residents said they heard what sounded like fights among several teens, possibly over a cell phone, in the parking lot.
“All I heard was a bunch of kids screeching about a BlackBerry,” said one man, who declined to identify himself. “Then, the next thing I know, one of them was crying.”
That fight, which woke him up, preceded the arrival of Isdell’s truck by as much as 30 minutes, the resident said.
Several residents, including downtown merchants, described the parking lot as a regular hangout for teenagers and twentysomethings.
“There’s nothing else to do in this town,” said Brady Vose, 19, of Lincoln. “Nothing else for anyone.”
Several residents expressed the belief that Isdell died after a confrontation with teens in the parking lot sparked by the teens throwing objects at the truck. They said alcohol consumption, drug dealing and drug use regularly occur in the lot and police occasionally have been called to handle incidents there.
Vose said he was in the lot at about 9 p.m. Wednesday with a half-dozen other teens, but left long before midnight.
No teens were in the parking lot Thursday morning, only police. The six evidence markers were laid out almost diagonally from the truck to the farthest front end of the rehabilitation center, a distance of about 100 yards.
State police detectives pored over Isdell’s tractor-trailer as passers-by gawked. Traffic along Main Street between West Broadway and Lee Road was narrowed to one lane for most of the morning.
The truck, which carried Tennessee license plates, had Jeff Nelson Trucking of Mountain City, Tenn., written on the doors.
David Shannon, chief executive officer of Penobscot Valley Hospital, also was on the scene, checking to see when the rehabilitation center could be opened. Other residents merely stared and talked. By 9:45 a.m. police and Bouchard and Sons Towing were hauling the truck from the corner of Mechanic and Main streets to be impounded by investigators. The bank and rehab center were open by 2 p.m.