PHIPPSBURG, Maine — It was a deadly weekend for two Sagadahoc County residents who are remembered for their hard work ethic and love of the outdoors.
County Sheriff Joel Merry said the investigations into both accidents — one which killed 20-year-old Justin S. Thomas early Monday in Phippsburg and one which killed Andrew J. Klaiber, 45, of Topsham on Saturday — were continuing Tuesday.
Thomas, a 2009 Morse High School graduate, was found along with his crashed all-terrain vehicle at about 1 a.m. Monday by a motorist who came upon the accident scene on Sebasco Road in Phippsburg. Merry said Thomas apparently lost control of the ATV while rounding a bend on his 2010 Yamaha four-wheeler and hit a utility pole. Merry blamed wet road conditions and excessive speed for the accident. A helmet was found at the scene, but it was unknown whether Thomas was wearing it when he crashed, said Merry.
Klaiber, who was a designer at Bath Iron Works, according to Merry, died at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday on Route 201 in Bowdoin. Witnesses told police that Klaiber, driving 2005 Chevy Blazer, suddenly began operating erratically, lost control down an embankment and struck a tree. Though road conditions were wet, Merry said his department and the state’s medical examiner are exploring the possibility that Klaiber suffered a medical emergency, which caused the crash. The final outcome of the investigation won’t be known until the medical examiner’s work is finished, which could take several weeks, according to Mark Belserene, the medical examiner’s office administrator. Merry said Klaiber was not wearing a seat belt.
Both men were pronounced dead at the scenes of their respective accidents.
“To me, the somewhat disturbing thing about these crashes is that the gentleman in Bowdoin wasn’t wearing a seat belt … and the young man in Phippsburg might not have been wearing his helmet,” said Merry. “I wonder if the outcomes could have been different. From the standpoint of public safety, we would all like motorists to be mindful of the importance of these safety devices.”
Thomas, who lived on Quarry Road in Phippsburg, was the son of Tracy and Katherine Thomas. Since he graduated high school, he has been employed at Harry C. Crooker & Sons, an excavation business located in Topsham. According to his obituary, Thomas enjoyed fishing, four-wheeling and working. In addition to numerous family members in Maine and beyond, Thomas left behind a longtime girlfriend, Kelsey Alexander of Brunswick.
Visiting hours for Thomas are scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Friday at Daigle Funeral Home at 819 HIgh St. in Bath. A celebration of his life will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bath Middle School at 6 Old Bath Road in Bath. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Phippsburg Sportsman Association, P.O. Box 298, Phippsburg 04562.
Klaiber, who lived on Meadow Road in Topsham, was born in Waterville to Harold and Jean Klaiber and graduated from Waterville High School in 1986, according to his obituary. He attended Kennebec Valley Vocational Technical Institute, where he received a degree in building construction technology in 1987.
Klaiber married Kelly Drouin in 1988 and together they raised a daughter, Kristin. For the past 25 years, Klaiber has been a designer at Bath Iron Works. Designing various projects, such as his own home and items for friends and family, was one of his chief passions. He also enjoyed fishing at his family’s camp on Moosehead Lake as well as riding snowmobiles and ATVs. He had a particular love for his dogs.
Visitation for Klaiber will be held 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday, at the Veilleux Funeral Home at 8 Elm St. in Waterville. A funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Congregational Church at 7 Eustis Parkway in Waterville. In lieu of flowers, donations in Klaiber’s name can be made to the Coastal Humane Society, 30 Range Road, Brunswick 04011; or to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, 85 Maine St., Brunswick 04011.