Thursday, May 23, 2013
By Doug Harlow email@example.com
FAIRFIELD -- A Fairfield police officer who caused an accident in January when making a U-turn in pursuit of a speeding car on U.S. Route 201 should not be cited with a motor vehicle infraction, an assistant attorney general said Thursday.
Fairfield police officer Shana Blodgett and Det. Sgt. Kingston Paul confer outside the cruiser that was destroyed, injuring officer Bill Beaulieu after the cruiser and a tractor trailer truck collided on U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield on Thursday, Jan. 31. The roadway was closed for hours as police from several departments investigated the accident.
Staff photo by David Leaming
The driver of the car he was pursuing, however -- an investigator with the district attorney's office -- could end up with a speeding ticket, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said.
A crash report by Maine State Police showed that Officer William Beaulieu of the Fairfield Police Department failed to yield the right of way when his cruiser made a U-turn in the road and was struck by a truck on Jan. 31.
Beaulieu was southbound. The truck was motoring north. Fairfield police said Beaulieu had his cruiser lights on but no siren, and he simply didn't see the truck coming the other way.
Accident reconstruction work closed the road for about three hours.
James Ross, a domestic-violence investigator with the Somerset County district attorney's office, also was northbound and had passed the truck, according to Maloney.
"He passed the truck; he agrees that when he saw (the police cruiser) coming, that he sped up to make sure he could get back into his lane before the other vehicle reached him," Maloney said of Ross. "So for that time that he sped up ... he doesn't object to the officer's statement that he was over the (speed) limit."
Ross was returning to his Skowhegan office from a bail check in Fairfield, Maloney said. He was driving a county vehicle.
"He hasn't received a speeding ticket, but he plans to pay his speeding ticket if he receives it," Maloney said. "That will be coming."
She said Beaulieu was unconscious at the accident scene and was not able to write Ross a ticket.
Sgt. Aaron Hayden of the Maine State Police, which investigated the accident for Fairfield police, said no criminal charges will be brought.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, whom Maloney asked to review the incident, said there should be no traffic citation issued to Beaulieu.
"I don't see this as an illegal U-turn," Stokes said. "I also looked at the failure to yield, and that doesn't really apply either. I don't see that there's any traffic violation or infraction."
He said the U-turn did not happen on a curve or the crest of a hill where the oncoming vehicle could not be seen. It was a straight section of road, Stokes said.
He said the case comes down to a civil standard, involving insurance and who was liable for the crash.
Beaulieu suffered minor injuries to his head, neck and back and was treated and released from MaineGeneral Medical Center in Waterville. The cruiser was destroyed.
The truck's driver, Michael Kresge, of Skowhegan, suffered whiplash from the impact and has not returned to work yet, according to his lawyer, Alison Wholey, of Rockport.
"He is in treatment and the full extent of his injuries is not known," Wholey said by phone Thursday.
Police originally said Kresge was not injured.
The truck, which came to rest off the road in a stand of small trees, was not badly damaged.
Detective Sgt. Kingston Paul, of the Fairfield Police Department, said an internal investigation into the accident is under way.
He said the results of that probe will be confidential because it is a personnel matter.
Doug Harlow -- 612-2367