Warning: This article contains a video that is violent and may be disturbing to some.
A video released by the Lewiston Police Department of Mayor-elect Mark Cayer hitting a woman in a city crosswalk with his van less than two weeks before his November election partially confirms the accounts of the crash from both sides.
Cayer admitted responsibility for the Oct. 24 crash in a Facebook post the next day, saying he was distracted by a bicyclist and a scooter in a bike lane on his right side and some nearby fire trucks when he hit Julianne Dawson of Lewiston. He said he was driving at or below 25 mph, the street’s posted speed limit.
Less than two weeks later, Cayer went on to win his race for mayor against Tim Lajoie and Charles Soule with 54.6 percent of votes.
The video shows where the parties were in the intersection of Pine and Bartlett streets during the crash but doesn’t show some of the distractions Cayer said were factors in the crash. The Bangor Daily News obtained the video in a public records request Wednesday.
Dawson told the Bangor Daily News in October that she wanted the video to be public because she felt some were blaming her for the incident. The Sun Journal’s Facebook page was full of examples of people blaming Dawson for the crash or accusing Cayer of lying about it.
Cayer did not contest the charge of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or showing visible intent to enter a crosswalk, a traffic violation, and paid a $180 ticket on Nov. 15, according to court records.
The video is one minute and 42 seconds long and only shows about half of the crosswalk. It shows Dawson about midway into the road. Just before Cayer’s vehicle hit her, she looked right. The video does not show a bicyclist or scooter, but two firefighters later enter the frame.
Lewiston Fire Chief Brian Stockdale confirmed his department was holding trainings nearby on Bartlett Street at the time. The video does not show how far away Cayer was when Dawson entered the crosswalk.
Dawson puts her hands up before the impact, hits the vehicle’s windshield and falls into the middle of the road. The impact cracked the vehicle’s windshield and damaged the side mirror, Cayer said in an October interview.
Cayer stopped his car in the middle of the intersection and walked over to Dawson before returning to his car and dialing his phone.
Lewiston police declined to release the video, which comes from a camera mounted on an electrical pole on the western corner of Pine and Bartlett streets, until after Cayer paid his ticket, saying doing so could interfere with court proceedings if the mayor-elect challenged the ticket.
The accident report said it is “unknown” if Cayer was distracted when he hit Dawson and had disregarded “other road markings” at the time of the crash. The intersection has four crosswalks as well as a yellow blinking light facing Pine Street.
Dawson was “inattentive” at the time of the crash, according to the report. But Dawson contested that in an October interview with the Bangor Daily News. At the time, she said she was carrying her phone with her headphones in, but had looked down the street before crossing it and said Cayer was far down the street when she entered the crosswalk.
Dawson said then her left arm was badly bruised by the crash and that she also suffered bruising on her leg and road rash. Dawson declined to comment further on Friday and deferred to her lawyer, Alex Spadinger.
“This incident is unfortunately another clear example of the danger distracted driving poses to the general public,” Spadinger said in an email.
Dawson said in October that Cayer sought her out at her Oak Street home and apologized to her the next day, though she said she didn’t know he was running for mayor until later that day.
Cayer reiterated in a Friday statement that he agrees with the Lewiston Police Department’s investigations and had admitted responsibility for the crash. In October, he said he was “relieved” that Dawson had accepted his apology and was “going to be OK.”
“It was my responsibility to be aware of everything that was around me,” he said then.