Driver who hit three people on bicycles, killing one, appears in court

Posted Aug. 12, 2013, at 11:19 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 12, 2013, at 4:17 p.m.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A driver who hit three people on bicycles in Biddeford, killing one man and leaving his 15-month-old son hospitalized, appeared in court Monday, according to Portland NBC television affiliate WCSH 6.

David Labonte, 56, of Biddeford faces two counts of aggravated operating under the influence and one count of manslaughter in the case. He entered no plea Monday and bail was set at $100,000, according to WCSH.

The charges against Labonte stem from a crash on Aug. 2, when a Ford pickup he was driving on Elm Street crossed the centerline and struck Jamerico Elliot, 52, who was riding a bicycle on the sidewalk with his 15-month-old son, Lavarice, in a bike seat. Labonte also hit bicyclist Melodie Brennan, 30, of Saco and then crashed into a parked Chevrolet pickup.

Jamerico Elliot died from his injuries on Wednesday, police said. His child remains hospitalized in serious condition, according to a representative at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Monday morning. Brennan was treated for injuries at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford and then released from the hospital the evening of the crash.

Labonte has a history of driving infractions, according to a Wednesday report by the Journal Tribune newspaper.

He was convicted of operating under the influence of intoxicants in both 2006 and 2005, and had speeding convictions in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the Biddeford newspaper.

According to WCSH, Labonte is accused by prosecutors of having a 0.17 blood alcohol level at the time of the crash, more than twice the legal limit.

In a Biddeford police affidavit, Officer Andrew Allaire says witnesses told him that Labonte never appeared to brake, signal or take action to avoid striking the bicyclists after crossing into oncoming traffic.

One witness allegedly told the officer it looked as though Labonte “had fallen asleep with his head down.”

After Allaire had arrived at the scene of the crash, he wrote that Labonte was sitting in his truck and complaining of heart pain and that witnesses were tending to the injured family.

“The dust from the airbag was overwhelming in the vehicle and I was unable to detect any odor of intoxicants,” Allaire wrote in the affidavit.

The affidavit adds that Labonte initially refused to allow his blood to be drawn for testing, but Maine District Court Judge Jeff Moskowitz approved a search warrant that allowed investigators to take a sample.

BDN staff reporters Dawn Gagnon and Nick McCrea contributed to this story.

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