State police complete examination of antique firetruck involved in Bangor July 4th fatal collision

The antique tractor and antique firetruck ride along in the Fourth of July parade in Bangor. An accident involving the vehicles occurred on Water Street where the man on the tractor was killed.
The antique tractor and antique firetruck ride along in the Fourth of July parade in Bangor. An accident involving the vehicles occurred on Water Street where the man on the tractor was killed.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted July 26, 2013, at 11:15 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The examination of the antique firetruck involved in the fatal Bangor Fourth of July parade collision to determine whether it had braking or mechanical problems is complete, according to Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman.

“Yes, it has been completed,” McCausland said Friday. “There was a conclusion reached — that information was turned over to the Bangor Police Department, who is conducting the investigation.”

It will be up to Bangor police to release the report, McCausland said.

Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Friday that “all questions relating to the accident must go through the city manager’s office.”

City Manager Cathy Conlow said Friday morning that she had not seen the vehicle autopsy findings, and City Solicitor Norm Heitmann said the same thing Friday afternoon. As of early Friday evening, the report remained with Bangor police, who were still working on their portion of the report, Conlow said.

Wallace Fenlason, 63, of Holden was killed instantly during Bangor’s holiday parade when the vintage 1941 John Deere tractor he was driving was struck from behind on Water Street by the 1930 McCann Pumper, police have said. Off-duty firefighter Patrick Heathcote, 29, of Levant was driving the firetruck and was placed on paid leave the day after the accident. He returned to work last week.

“It was a challenge because of its age,” Sgt. Darren Foster, supervisor of the Maine State Police crash analysis unit based in Augusta, said Friday about the inspection of the 1930 McCann Pumper.

Foster said he could not talk about the conclusions of the vehicle autopsy, but he was able to talk about the process.

The 83-year-old truck has an antiquated driving mechanism but “it had hydraulic braking,” said the crash analysis supervisor, who has been part of the unit for nine years and has led it for three.

“Hydraulic brakes are the same from 1930 to today,” Foster said. “The mechanics are the same — there is a master cylinder and brake lines.”

Four members of the crash analysis unit, with Bangor police Officer Jim Dearing in attendance, conducted the vehicle autopsy on July 19 at Eastern Maine Community College. Dearing is leading the investigation.

“It took most of the day,” Foster said. “It was different [because of the age of the vehicle] but familiar at the same time.

“We haven’t received the crash reconstruction report yet,” said Foster, who reviews and approves all such reports in Maine. “I assume they [Bangor police officials] are not going to release any report until the results are in. They may release the findings.”

The written reports will not be available until the investigation is closed, he said.

The vehicle is owned by the city but was maintained and used, according to a 1984 agreement by a group called the McCann Committee, which was made up of eight firefighters and then-Fire Chief Robert J. Burke, who refurbished the historic truck.

Heitmann said the city-owned firetruck was not registered and did not have an annual inspection, both of which are required for vehicles that operate on public roads. Parade routes are not considered public ways because they are closed to traffic.

“They do not need to be registered or inspected,” he said, according to his research.

Heitmann also added that the city has not received a notice of claim.

The parade from Brewer to Bangor was rerouted onto Water Street because of a police standoff on Park Street that started earlier in the day in downtown Bangor. A Detroit, Mich., man allegedly shot up his apartment and out his window into the street, and later was arrested.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/26/news/bangor/police-complete-examination-of-antique-firetruck-involved-in-bangor-july-4th-fatal-collision/ printed on July 29, 2014