June 24, 2018
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Police: Students were playing ‘leapfrog’ just before fatal crash

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Clark Noonan
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

STANDISH, Maine — Several cars filled with Saint Joseph’s College students were racing north on Chadbourne Road — at one point playing a game of “leapfrog” — on Saturday when the lead vehicle lost control, rolled over several times and ejected student athlete Clark Noonan, who died at the scene.

Capt. Shawn O’Leary of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday said several cars containing students were behind the Mazda 626 sedan driven by fellow student Tyler Hall, 19, of Pittston, that crashed at 1:30 a.m. The other cars arrived at the accident scene just seconds later.

“It was a very, very chaotic scene,” the captain said. “Everybody was very emotionally distraught. They were just so totally in shock. It was just awful.”

At least one of the stunned students did everything possible to help those injured, including Noonan, O’Leary said.

“One Saint Joseph’s kid attempted CPR,” he said.

Hall, James Philbrook, 20, of Auburn and Terence Cullen, 21, were injured in the rollover and taken to an area hospital. The sports car ended up entangled in a chain-link fence.

The crash scene — with injured students, others in shock, and one dead — was overwhelming, even for some of the responding deputies, O’Leary said.

“It was horrible, tragic event,” he said. “It was very upsetting for a lot of deputies,” some of whom have children enrolled at the college.

Noonan was a sophomore business major and basketball player for the Monks. He had been a star student athlete at Bangor High School.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night at Saint Joseph’s College and more than 700 students, family and friends attended his memorial service on Tuesday in Bangor.

Early indications are that the teenage driver was not drinking, but a blood test was taken just to be sure, which is required whenever there is a fatal crash, Capt. Don Goulet of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has said.

Others in the car may have been drinking, he said, adding that the fatal crash is still under investigation.

“We’re also doing an investigation into where they came from,” O’Leary said. “We’re still putting everything together. We’ve interviewed everybody and have a good idea what took place” and are awaiting toxicology tests to complete the accident report.

No charges have been filed.

Minutes before Hall lost control of his car, he and another driver in the student convoy were involved in a game of “leapfrog,” O’Leary said. He said the road game — in which cars pass each other again and again — took place before the accident.

The game ended when when the other driver decided to stop playing and took a left when the convoy reached the four-way stop at the junction of Chadbourne Road and Route 114.

Hall proceeded on Chadbourne Road and crashed shortly after leaving the intersection, O’Leary said.

It’s common occurrence each spring for students and young adults to get into such car accidents, the veteran law enforcement officer said.

“Hopefully, other students will see this tragedy and think twice about drinking and driving and speeding around,” O’Leary said.

Correction: An early version of this story requires clarification. Mazda's 626 is a sedan, not a sports car.

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