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Bangor store video shows minivan hitting SUV in fatal crash; daughter says driver beginning to talk

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Bangor police investigate a three-vehicle crash on Broadway that took the life of one person on Sunday, June 10, 2012.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The surveillance camera video taken from Tom T’s convenience store on Broadway clearly shows a speeding and out-of-control vehicle hitting an SUV in front of the store during the fatal crash Sunday evening.

A thick cloud of white smoke follows the speeding vehicle as it heads out Broadway and strikes the SUV, which was inbound toward Bangor, head-on. After the collision, the speeding vehicle, a minivan, can be seen spinning around. It comes to a stop facing in the same direction it was heading.

As the smoke clears, the heavily damaged SUV comes into view on its side in the grass on the side of the road where Kev-Lan is located.

“It’s a video I wish I didn’t have,” store owner Tom Thibeau said. “It’s a very tragic situation.”

Police went to Tom T’s on Wednesday and returned Thursday to review the video, which supports what they say happened Sunday, the store owner said. The Bangor Daily News also reviewed the video Thursday.

Police say Ralph Morrison, 72, was driving a 2007 Hyundai minivan outbound on Broadway about 6 p.m. Sunday when he first struck a 2000 Toyota Camry, also heading outbound, and then went out of control and hit head-on the SUV, a 2002 GMC Envoy, which was heading into Bangor.

The collision, which occurred at the junction of Broadway and Burleigh Road, resulted in the death of Morrison’s passenger and wife, Diane Morrison, 68.

“It was their anniversary and they were on their way to church,” said Roann McCafferty of Belmont, Diane Morrison’s daughter. “They have been married 27 years.”

Ralph Morrison, who is her stepfather, was seriously injured in the crash and just started to talk again Thursday, but for the most part is confused, she said.

“We still don’t know what happened,” McCafferty said. “He’s in really bad condition. He’s really incoherent. He’s not aware of my mom’s passing.”

Morrison did not have a heart attack or stroke, doctors have told the family, and he has no major health issues, she said, adding that a CT scan was done Thursday.

“Something obviously happened,” McCafferty said. “I don’t know if it was a malfunction of the vehicle or something else.”

She described her stepdad as a slow driver.

Morrison was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, as were the three people in the Envoy. The SUV’s driver, Lisa Pelkey, 46, and her passengers, husband Ray Pelkey and daughter Alyssa Pelkey, 11, remained at the hospital Wednesday, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said.

The four injured motorists or their family members have asked that their conditions not be released to the public, hospital officials have said.

Several eyewitnesses at the accident scene Sunday said it was the Envoy that was speeding and caused the accident. Edwards explained that eyewitnesses are often in shock after accidents, especially fatal collisions, and that is why accident reconstruction investigators must rely on the evidence they collect at the scene.

“I totally understand about the confusion,” the sergeant said. “It’s difficult when you have two cars with similar colors.”

Morrison’s minivan was a blue-gray color and the Envoy was silver-gray.

Some people, including eyewitnesses, who believe the fatal crash was caused by the SUV and who have seen the store’s surveillance video are still unwilling to trust what their eyes are seeing, said Thibeau.

“They still don’t want to believe,” the store owner said.

Correction: An early version of this story misspelled Diane Morrison’s daughter's last name. It is McCafferty, not McCasserty. The Morrisons were celebrating their 27th year of marriage, not 20th.

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