WASHBURN, Maine – A bicyclist competing in a race on Parsons Road suffered serious injury Sunday when he collided with a pickup truck about halfway through the 14-mile event, police and the race’s organizer said.
Thad Lavallee, 38, was about a mile from race mile marker No. 7 when the crash occurred at about 2:30 p.m. He appeared to suffer a deep cut to his leg that ran about eight inches long, plus scrapes and a cut to his forehead, said Mark Fullen, organizer of the Maine Time Trial Series and manager of Mojo, an outdoor sporting goods shop on Main Street.
A worker at The Aroostook Medical Center declined to comment on Lavallee’s condition. She referred comment to a hospital administrator who said that Lavallee had yet to sign a consent form authorizing the release of his condition.
Witnesses told Fullen that the pickup truck, a Ford F-150, broadsided Lavallee as he rode by the gravel driveway the truck was coming from.
However, Washburn police Officer Roy Guidry said witnesses he interviewed told him that the accident occurred because Lavallee struck the pickup truck head on. Witnesses he interviewed say the truck was parked facing southbound and Lavalle was riding northbound.
“He hit the grille right dead smack on. The damage to the truck is in the dead center of the grille right in the license plate and grille area. That is consistent with a narrow strike like the bike hitting the center of the pickup truck,” Guidry said. “A broadside would have been completely different.”
All of the bike damage was in the front of the bicycle, adding credence to the thought that the bike struck the pickup truck head on, Guidry said. He said he has yet to determine whether the pickup truck was parked or moving.
The driver of the pickup truck, Kenneth Ayotte, 53, of Presque Isle, told Guidry that he was stopped at the end of the driveway where the accident occurred. The accident was at the corner of Hale and Parsons Road in Washburn, about three miles from the Presque Isle town line.
Despite his injuries, Lavallee managed to joke with two riders who stopped to help him, Fullen said.
“Now you can leave and beat me,” Lavallee reportedly told rider Von Perry of Easton, Fullen said.
Perry and another rider, Rosemary Williams, gave Lavallee a blanket, shaded him and tended to his wounds as best they could until an ambulance arrived, Fullen said. Lavallee registered for the race as a
resident of Sharon, but Fullen said he heard that Lavallee was an out-of-towner.
Guidry said an initial check of Lavalle’s residence indicated that he was from South Portland.
Parsons Road starts at Mechanic, Dyer and State streets in downtown Presque Isle and continues north and west to Brewer Thomas Park in Washburn.
Fullen expressed regret about the crash, saying it was the first serious accident in the six years that Mojo has sponsored or helped organize the annual race, which had about 25 riders. The shop also organizes rides on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays in good-weather months, he said.
“I am disappointed. We ride that road all the time,” Fullen said. “That is the road we use every single Monday. They [residents and motorists] know that we are there. It is my favorite road because people are so conscious of bicyclists.”
“I really have to hope that this was just a random accident. I don’t think it was anything on purpose,” Fullen added.
Anyone with information about the accident, or who saw it, is asked to call Guidry at 455-4043. His investigation is continuing.