Friend remembers ‘computer genius’ killed in Palermo crash

Tyler Manduca, 18, and his 21-year-old brother Kyle Manduca, both of Bucksport, as well as 64-year-old Dennis Sturges and his father, Roy Lucier, 83, both of Palermo, were all killed in Maine's deadliest accident of 2011 on Christmas Day. A sport utility vehicle driven by Tyler Manduca lost control on Route 3 in Palermo and skidded sideways into the path of a car driven by Sturges, which hit the SUV broadside.
Maine Department of Public Safety
Tyler Manduca, 18, and his 21-year-old brother Kyle Manduca, both of Bucksport, as well as 64-year-old Dennis Sturges and his father, Roy Lucier, 83, both of Palermo, were all killed in Maine's deadliest accident of 2011 on Christmas Day. A sport utility vehicle driven by Tyler Manduca lost control on Route 3 in Palermo and skidded sideways into the path of a car driven by Sturges, which hit the SUV broadside.
Posted Dec. 28, 2011, at 5:34 p.m.

PALERMO, Maine — A longtime friend of Dennis Sturges, one of the men killed on Christmas Day in the deadliest crash in Maine this year, said Sturges loved computers and wanted to give everyone in his community a chance to get connected.

Sturges, 64, and his father-in-law, Roy Lucier, 83, both of Palermo, as well as Tyler Manduca, 18, and his 21-year-old brother, Kyle Manduca, both of Bucksport, were all killed in the crash.

Sturges and Lucier were on their way to a relative’s home in Palermo when the SUV Tyler Manduca was driving slid in front of Sturges’ vehicle.

Sturges and Lucier only had a one-mile trip to their destination, according to family friend John Potter.

Police believe Manduca lost control because he was driving too fast for road conditions. A light snow had covered Route 3 before the accident happened around 1:30 p.m. The brothers were on their way to a Christmas celebration at their stepmother’s home in Augusta.

Potter, 87, of Palermo worked closely with Sturges for more than two decades. He said on Wednesday that Sturges and Lucier moved to Maine from Texas around 25 or 30 years ago and quickly became active in the community.

Sturges was an active member of Malcolm Glidden American Legion Post 163 and past master of Masons Dirigo Lodge 104, Potter said.

Sturges helped found the Palermo Community Foundation about 25 years ago, Potter said.

When personal computers began to grow in popularity in the 1990s, Sturges volunteered to train elderly, sick and low-income residents how to use computer programs and the Internet. Sturges also fixed up used computers and gave them to people in the community who wouldn’t have access to the technology otherwise, according to Potter.

“He enjoyed teaching old people, sick people, needy people,” Potter said. “He really enjoyed that, and he made such a contribution.”

“He was a frustrated genius with technology,” Potter said with a chuckle.

Sturges loved computers and wanted to share their capabilities with others, Potter said. Sturges sacrificed a lot of time, energy and effort to keep the computer program going.

“Some people have their hands out saying, ‘Gimme, gimme,’” Potter said. “Dennis had his hands out giving, giving.”

Potter said he didn’t know much about Lucier, but said Lucier and Sturges were very close, especially after Sturges’ wife passed away years ago. They lived together and Sturges cared for his father-in-law attentively. Both men were retired.

Sturges named his son Roy after his father-in-law, Potter said.

No funeral services have been announced for Sturges or Lucier.

Funeral arrangements were announced Wednesday for the Manduca brothers.

Visiting hours are scheduled for 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, at Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, 107 Main St., Fairfield, according the men’s obituaries. A memorial service is set for 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at the funeral home, with the Rev. Jack Quigg officiating.

The Manduca brothers are survived by their mother, Stacy Coombs, and her husband, Timothy, of Bucksport; sisters Kirsten Coombs of Bucksport and Kailyn Pelkey of Augusta and her husband, Tyler; and their stepmother, Tammy Manduca of Augusta.

The brothers’ father, former Maine Department of Public Safety dispatcher Russell Manduca, died in January 2008 after a heart attack.

Tyler Manduca graduated this year from Bucksport High School. He was preparing to enlist in the United States Air Force, where he would have studied engineering, according to his obituary. He worked in the produce section at the Bucksport Hannaford store.

Kyle Manduca graduated from Bucksport High School in 2008. He earned a certificate in 2009 from the Center of Digital Imaging Arts from Boston University campus in Waltham, Mass. He was taking classes to become a shift manager at McDonald’s in Bucksport, according to his bosses.

“They were loved — everybody loved them,” Tammy Manduca said Wednesday afternoon. “They were very caring boys, and they would do anything for anyone.”

Tammy Manduca said that even though the brothers’ parents divorced when they were young, both sides of the family have been extremely supportive of each other.

“The families were very close; it was always about the boys,” she said.

Christmas might never feel the same, she said, but she will try to make them normal and happy for her grandchildren and the brothers’ sisters.

“Kyle and Tyler are still going to be with us, no matter what,” she said.

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