Tractor-trailer driver suffers fatal heart attack in Marden’s parking lot in Rumford

Deputy Chief Chris Bryant of the Rumford Fire Department (left) and Lt. Keith Bickford wait for Rumford police officer Dave Hodgson (center) and Cpl. Lawrence Winson and a trooper from the Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division to examine a tractor-trailer in the Marden's parking lot Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Police say the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.
Terry Karkos | Sun Journal
Deputy Chief Chris Bryant of the Rumford Fire Department (left) and Lt. Keith Bickford wait for Rumford police officer Dave Hodgson (center) and Cpl. Lawrence Winson and a trooper from the Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division to examine a tractor-trailer in the Marden's parking lot Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Police say the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.
Posted April 25, 2012, at 5:52 a.m.
Last modified April 29, 2012, at 8:39 p.m.
A tractor-trailer loaded with wood chips landed in woods next to Marden's parking lot in Rumford on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Police say the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.
Terry Karkos | Sun Journal
A tractor-trailer loaded with wood chips landed in woods next to Marden's parking lot in Rumford on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Police say the driver suffered a fatal heart attack.

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RUMFORD, Maine — A Peru man suffered a fatal heart attack Tuesday after driving a loaded chip truck off Route 2 and into the Marden’s parking lot, police officer Dave Hodgson said.

Robert J. Bernard, 53, was unresponsive when he was pulled from the cab of the tractor-trailer registered to Richard Carrier Trucking Inc. of Skowhegan, Hodgson said.

Witnesses and medical responders performed CPR and Med-Care Ambulance took Bernard to Rumford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:41 p.m.

At about 1 p.m., Bernard maneuvered the 22-wheeler off the highway and into the parking lot, Hodgson said.

“He must have had a reason, because there was no reason for him to go into the parking lot,” the officer said.

He said that according to witnesses, the driver slumped over the steering wheel.

The truck went forward several hundred feet, passing between a cemetery on the right and parked cars and several stacked pallets of cedar chips on the left. It traveled down a slight embankment, its tires sinking into rain-softened dirt, and crashed into the edge of woods.

Hodgson said he didn’t know whether Bernard intentionally steered or aimed the rolling truck toward the woods to avoid striking parked vehicles before he lost consciousness.

“Luckily, nobody else was hurt,” he said.

Rumford police Cpl. Lawrence Winson told Hodgson that when he arrived first, witnesses to the accident were inside the truck trying to revive Bernard.

The tractor and trailer remained upright.

The front bumper was bent from hitting two small trees and there was some damage to the undercarriage and an oil leak from hitting a tree, Hodgson said.

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