Police say report on fatal July 4th parade collision may be released Wednesday

The antique tractor and antique firetruck ride-along in the Fourth of July parade in Bangor.
The antique tractor and antique firetruck ride-along in the Fourth of July parade in Bangor.
Posted July 31, 2013, at 11:28 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A report summarizing the investigation of a collision between an antique firetruck and a vintage tractor in which one man died during Bangor’s Fourth of July parade may be released Wednesday, a police official said.

The examination of the antique firetruck involved in the fatal parade collision was completed on Friday.

The crash reconstruction report by Bangor police Officer Jim Dearing, who is leading the investigation, and the supplemental report by Detective Cliff Worcester were sent to the Maine State Police crash analysis unit and have been reviewed and approved, according to Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards.

The final steps needed before the fatal crash report is released to the public is for the report to be approved by Bangor police supervisors, and for police to notify the families of those involved about the results, Edwards said Wednesday.

“We have a report that is not yet completed,” Edwards said. “When it’s completed … then we have to let the families know. That’s the way it is with all death investigations.”

Edwards said Bangor Police Chief Mark Hathaway has asked that the process be completed on Wednesday, but the sergeant said nothing is guaranteed.

“They just want to make sure it’s done right,” he said.

Police will first release the conclusions of the report to Bangor firefighter Patrick Heathcote, 29, of Levant, who was driving the 83-year-old firetruck during the parade, and the family of Wallace Fenlason, 63, of Holden who was killed, Edwards said.

Fenlason was driving a vintage 1941 John Deere tractor when he was struck from behind on Water Street by the 1930 McCann Pumper at the site of where the parade route was diverted because of a standoff on Park Street about four blocks away.

The brakes on the firetruck failed, according to a preliminary accident report filed on the Maine Crash Reporting System. Vehicles at least 25 years old that are registered as antiques are not required to be inspected under Maine law. There are approximately 22,500 antique vehicles and motorcycles registered in Maine, according to Garry Hinkley, director of vehicle services for the state’s DMV.

Sgt. Darren Foster, supervisor of the Maine State Police crash analysis unit based in Augusta that conducted the “vehicle autopsy” on the 1930 McCann Pumper two weeks ago, said Friday that, “It was a challenge because of its age.” He later added the hydraulic braking system the 83-year-old pumper has have the same mechanics as those used today.

Four members of the crash analysis unit, with Dearing in attendance, conducted the vehicle autopsy on July 19 at Eastern Maine Community College.

City Manager Cathy Conlow said Wednesday morning that she had not seen a copy of the crash report, and added, “They’re not going to release it until we’ve seen it.”

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

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