HAMPDEN, Maine — The man killed when he crashed his vehicle into a tree on U.S. Route 1A after a high-speed chase Monday afternoon was identified Tuesday as Matthew Cynewski, 21, of Belfast.
Cynewski was fleeing police when he crashed his Jeep at about 3:30 p.m. near the Riverview Cemetery, police said. He was removed from the destroyed vehicle and taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m., according to Police Chief Joe Rogers, who is Hampden’s public safety director.
The Jeep, which had been traveling erratically on Interstate 95 and Interstate 395, reached an estimated speed of 100 mph by the time it crashed along the section of Route 1A known as Main Road North in Hampden, Rogers said.
Just before the crash, the driver sideswiped a Subaru Forester driven by a Hampden woman and took out a section of fence at Riverview Cemetery, Rogers said. She was shaken but not injured.
“Speed was definitely a factor,” Rogers said.
Investigators are still trying to determine why Cynewski was speeding, the police chief said.
“That part is still under investigation,” he said.
Cynewski was a 2009 Belfast Area High School graduate and worked at Ducktrap River of Maine in Belfast with his father, their Facebook pages said.
On Monday afternoon, Bangor police received information from Maine State Police about the Jeep, which was moving erratically on Interstate 95 southbound from the Old Town area. Bangor police Officer George Spencer caught up with the speeding vehicle on I-395 in Bangor and attempted to stop Cynewski, who exited the highway and got on Main Street heading toward Hampden at a high rate of speed. He crashed into the tree about two miles into Hampden.
Belfast police officers said Tuesday morning that they were familiar with Cynewski. BDN archives show that he had a several convictions for alcohol and criminal mischief violations over the last three years.
Orono police Officer Christopher Watson, an accident reconstructionist, and Bangor police Officers Jim Dearing and Steve Jordan are assisting Hampden police Officer Shawn Devine in investigating the crash.
Rogers said Cynewski had a “run of the mill” driving record that didn’t have anything that stood out to him. Whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash is part of the investigation, he said.
Cynewski was the 72nd person to die on Maine roads this year, according to the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, which recorded 95 highway deaths at this point in 2010, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday.
The number of people who have died on Maine roads “is down considerably from last year, but August has not been a good month,” he said, noting there has been a rash of deaths in the last couple of weeks.
After the fatal crash, Cynewski’s father, Donald Cynewski, who lives in Northport, changed his Facebook image to a picture of his son at the Sugarloaf ski resort.
“I love you Matthew,” he wrote.
BDN reporters Dawn Gagnon and Abigail Curtis contributed to this story.