June 22, 2018
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Driver who hit two bicyclists, infant in Biddeford has history of drunken driving

By Dina Mendros, Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Alcohol may have been a factor in a collision on Elm Street in Biddeford last week that left an infant and a man in critical condition, according to Biddeford Police.

On Friday at about 6 p.m., David Labonte, 56, of Kennebunkport was driving a 2005 Ford Explorer pickup northbound when, according to police, he crossed the centerline into the oncoming traffic lane. The truck reportedly struck three people who were on bicycles riding on the sidewalk heading south, according to a statement from Biddeford Police.

Jamerico Elliott, 51, of Saco and his 15-month-old son, Lavarice Elliott, were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland after the accident. The boy was riding in a car seat attached to his father’s bicycle.

The child’s mother, Melodie Brennan, 30, of Saco, was treated and released from Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford on Friday.

Labonte has a conditional license due to a prior conviction of operating under the influence in 2006, said Melissa Couture, the director of constituent services with the Office of the Secretary of State.

For the type of conditional license Labonte possesses, there is “zero tolerance” for alcohol, she said. If he is found to have had any alcohol in his system at the time of the collision, even if it is less than the legal limit of .08, he would have his license suspended for a minimum of one year, said Couture.

Labonte did submit to a blood alcohol test, but Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk said the results of that test would not be available until the end of the week at the earliest.

Labonte told the Portland Press Herald he feels “awful” about what happened but says he had a coughing fit and fainted just before the accident. Labonte told the paper that he is asthmatic, and said he was feeling light-headed just minutes before he struck the bicyclists.

Labonte does have an extensive record of motor vehicle infractions over the last 10 years. In addition to the OUI conviction in 2006, which resulted in a one-year suspension of his license, he was also convicted of operating under the influence of intoxicants in December 2005.

Other motor vehicle convictions took place for speeding violations in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010; failure to produce evidence of insurance in 2003; driving without a seat belt in 2005 and 2008; operating without lights in 2005; and operating an unregistered motor vehicle in 2009.

On Friday, in addition to striking the bicyclists, Labonte struck a 2001 Chevrolet pickup truck that was parked at Republic Cash at 364 Elm St., according to police. The force of the impact pushed both vehicles into a nearby house. The crash pushed the granite foundation block into the building, resulting in the loss of electricity and water, according to police.

Fisk said the investigation into the accident is ongoing, and the reconstruction of the accident is still taking place.

Labonte’s vehicle has been impounded, said Fisk, and a search warrant will be executed to determine whether the vehicle contains a black box that can show what preceded the accident. If the box is found, she said it would become evidence.

No charges against Labonte have been filed. At a later date, police will meet with a representative of the York County district attorney’s office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, which is “standard procedure,” Fisk said.

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