BANGOR, Maine — The car crash on outer Essex Street that took the lives of two young men Tuesday happened on a stretch of road that has a history of bad accidents and claimed the life of a teenager 10 years ago.
“We’ve had a fatal out there but on the opposite side of the road,” Bangor police Lt. Jeff Millard, who is investigating Tuesday’s crash with Officer James Dearing, said Wednesday, referring to the accident in 2000.
There also was a very serious rollover crash there involving two teenagers in 2002, he said.
On Tuesday, Rene Secord, 25, of Orono and Kirk Smith, 22, of Bangor were in a black 2005 Pontiac two-door sedan owned by a relative of Secord when they crashed into a tree near 1786 Essex St. around 3:45 p.m.
Both men were ejected from the vehicle. Secord was pronounced dead at the accident scene and Smith died later at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Excessive speed is believed to be one of the contributing factors of the crash, Millard said.
“We’re pretty sure Secord was the driver,” he said. “It was the vehicle that he always drove.”
“He was traveling well over the speed limit,” Millard said.
Police are investigating reports that Secord and Smith were at a camp on Pushaw Lake before the accident. Sgt. Paul Edwards said “they were coming inbound” toward downtown Bangor when the crash occurred.
Few additional details — including where the two men were heading, whether they were wearing seat belts and whether either had been drinking or was under the influence of drugs — are known at this point in the investigation, Edwards said.
A broken alcohol bottle was found near the crashed car, but it is not known whether it was there before the accident, Millard said.
It can take weeks and sometimes months to get the results of toxicology tests, which is standard procedure whenever there is a fatal crash, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office said Wednesday.
“We sent a medical examiner to do a view and take blood samples,” she said.
A relative reached by phone Wednesday at the home of Secord’s uncle said the family is grieving, especially with so many unanswered questions.
“We don’t know anything,” said the woman, who did not identify herself.
Secord’s obituary states that he graduated from Bangor High School and played football for the Rams, had earned the rank of Eagle Scout and also took classes at the University of Maine.
“He brought great joy to his family,” it said.
Essex Street between Burleigh and Church roads was closed to traffic within minutes of Tuesday’s deadly crash, which was called in to police by residents in the area. It didn’t reopen until about 8:30 p.m.
Edwards, Millard and Dearing all recalled going to accidents over the years in the same area where Tuesday’s crash occurred.
“There have been accidents on Essex Street, in between Burleigh and Church, and they are generally more serious due to speed” and the winding road, Edwards said. “It’s a busy road. It can be a little tricky out there because it’s a thin road.”
Dearing recalled a December 2000 fatal accident that killed a 17-year-old Bangor High School student. Andrew Rice, then 24, had been drinking and was speeding on Essex Street when he lost control of his vehicle while attempting to pass a car at 102 mph.
His passenger, Adam Lebel, 17, of Glenburn, died at the scene and Rice was later sentenced to 12 years in prison for the manslaughter death of his friend.
With the roadway’s history, and the fact that new pavement is being laid along that stretch of Essex Street, Millard expressed concern that drivers may throw caution to the wind and speed.
“It’s going to be a Speedway 95,” he said.