Eric Sanders of Belfast, a fifth-time participant in the Trek Across Maine, said from the trek campsite in Farmington that Friday’s tragic accident was casting a pall over the usually festive event.
“Everybody here is just worried about the family of this kid,” he said, referring to 23-year-old David LeClair of Watertown, Mass., who was struck and killed in the morning by a tractor-trailer while riding on Route 2 in Hanover. LeClair was part of the 200-member athenahealth cycling team raising funds through the ride for the American Lung Association.
“Our hearts and prayers are with his family and athena,” Sanders said. “Everybody here now is living with the fact that one of our fellow trekkers got hit and died. That is a very heartbreaking feeling. It’s a very sad reminder of what can happen on the open road.”
Sanders knows better than most people what can happen. He was badly injured in March as he was finishing a 20-mile bike ride in a hit-and-run accident just feet from his driveway. He suffered a mangled ear and broken vertebrae, and the driver was arrested a week after the incident on charges that included aggravated operating under the influence.
On Friday, Sanders said that during that day’s ride from Sunday River to Farmington, one of his riding buddies was spooked by a logging truck that came close to the cyclists. He also heard a driver call to the cyclists, telling them that they were holding up traffic.
“Bike safety is still an issue,” Sanders said. He added that his heart went out to LeClair, his family and his many athenahealth teammates.
“I have spent the last three months trying not to cry,” he said of the long recovery from his accident. “News like this doesn’t help me not cry. It really gets inside your head. We’re all sad. We’re all looking to help. All trekkers are in this together. It’s going to be a tragedy that we’ll remember a long time, that’s for sure.”