Police drop charge against woman in hit-and-run that injured Belfast councilor

Posted March 11, 2013, at 2:20 p.m.
Last modified March 13, 2013, at 4:31 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Police said Monday that they have rescinded a charge against a woman arrested in connection with a hit-and-run accident Friday that sent a Belfast city councilor to the hospital.

Derri Lucas, 36, of Knox was in the car that struck Eric Sanders, 53, who was just feet away from his driveway after finishing a 20-mile bike ride, according to Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden — but she wasn’t driving. The police investigation now reportedly is focused on the man who actually was behind the wheel but who told officers Friday night that the Knox woman had been driving.

The man has not yet been charged, so the BDN is not releasing his name.

Lucas no longer is charged with aggravated leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, but she remains charged with violating conditions of release from a previous offense, operating after suspension, possession of marijuana and refusing to submit to arrest.

McFadden said Monday morning that when the first officer went to the accident scene, he found Sanders, injured and on the ground at the intersection of Main and Alto streets, and broken glass and a broken side mirror in the roadway. Two eyewitnesses said they had seen two cars passing the cyclist, but at a great enough distance they couldn’t tell which one had struck Sanders.

The councilor spent hours in the emergency room Friday night after the accident while doctors worked to stitch together his badly injured ear and attend to other injuries. McFadden said Sanders, whom he described as “tough,” already was back at work on Monday.

Officers investigating a report of a disturbance at a Patterson Hill Road residence Friday afternoon found a man rolling a cigarette inside a maroon vehicle at the home, with damage consistent with the hit-and-run accident. They asked the man in the car if he had been in town and if he had been in an accident.

“The man immediately said, ‘I don’t remember being in town,’” McFadden said. “Then he said, ‘I thought I saw a bicycle fall down. I asked [Lucas] if she’d hit anybody on a bicycle.’”

Police then talked to Lucas, who was “extremely intoxicated,” which was a violation of her bail conditions. She also had the keys to the car, which belonged to her boyfriend, in her pocket.

“They put all the information together,” McFadden said, and police decided they had probable cause to arrest Lucas in connection with the hit and run.

But the next day, another officer went to Waldo County Jail to interview Lucas.

“She claimed that [the man] was in fact driving the vehicle at the time of the accident,” McFadden said.

Officers learned that minutes before the hit and run, the man had gone to the nearby McDonald’s to buy some food.

“He was so drunk, the manager and employees were concerned he was going to drive off,” McFadden said.

One employee watched as he did — and video evidence from the fast-food restaurant corroborated this, according to the chief.

Other video evidence from the Freedom General Store on Friday showed that Derry Lucas at one point also was driving, which she is not legally allowed to do, according to the chief.

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the woman initially charged by Belfast police. Her name is Derri Lucas, not Derry.

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