Trek Across Maine crash report shows big rig’s draft contributed to fatality

Some of the 164 cyclists riding with the L.L. Bean team finish this year's Trek Across Maine in Belfast.
Abigail Curtis | BDN
Some of the 164 cyclists riding with the L.L. Bean team finish this year's Trek Across Maine in Belfast.
Posted June 27, 2013, at 4:47 p.m.
Last modified June 27, 2013, at 6:41 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The draft created by a passing tractor-trailer pulled a bicyclist participating in the Trek Across Maine toward the big rig and contributed to his death earlier this month, according to a preliminary Maine State Police crash report filed this week.

David LeClair, 23, of Watertown, Mass., was also drinking from a water bottle as the truck passed him, which caused him to lose control of his bike, investigators said earlier this month.

Maine State Police Trooper Ronald Turnick investigated the June 14 crash that resulted in LeClair’s death about 10 miles into the 180-mile bicycle ride that raises awareness and funds for the American Lung Association.

“The draft created by [the big rig] caused [LeClair] to move to his left and strike [the truck],” states the trooper’s report, which was approved this week.

LeClair was “near the breakdown lane” traveling east on U.S. Route 2 in the Oxford County town of Hanover when the incident occurred, Turnick’s report states.

The trooper’s report is “just the initial report,” Lt. Walter Grzyb, commander of Maine State Police Troop B, which covers Hanover, said Thursday. “It’s not the fatality report. That is still under investigation. They are still doing interviews and are still finding people.”

The final investigative report “will be awhile” before it is complete, the lieutenant said.

LeClair was riding with half a dozen of his athenahealth teammates who told police that he was taking a drink and only had one hand on his handlebars, Grzyb said earlier this month.

“When the truck went past, LeClair lost control of his bike and fell into the path of the truck,” the lieutenant said. “There was a draft created [as the truck passed] and it caused him to lose his balance.”

LeClair hit his head in the fall from his bike, which the medical examiner said caused his death, and he was partially run over by the big rig resulting in damage to his left arm, detectives said.

Witnesses told investigators that there was 3½-4 feet of separation as the truck passed the cyclists, who were riding in a group, possibly two or three abreast.

Michel Masse-Defresne, 24, of Quebec, who was carrying corn to Augusta for Transport Serge Beauregard Inc., based in Saint Jacques Le Mineur, Quebec, was driving the truck involved. He told investigators he passed hundreds of bikes and “did not notice anything,” Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said earlier this month.

There is little likelihood any charges will be lodged against the trucker, McCausland said, but the final crash report will be reviewed by the Oxford County district attorney’s office once it is completed sometime in the next month or so.

Turnick’s investigative report was approved Tuesday by Trooper Kyle Tilsey.

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

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