April 3, 2013

Unclear if Tuesday's fatal crash victim wore seat belt

STAFF REPORT

AUGUSTA -- Police have not determined yet whether a Manchester man was wearing a seat belt when his car hit a tree Tuesday night on Western Avenue, killing him.

Patrick Culleton, 21, died at the scene of the crash, said Augusta police Deputy Chief Jared Mills.

Mills said the airbags in Culleton's Nissan Sentra were activated by the crash, but investigators are still checking on the seat belt. Culleton was alone in the car.

The crash occurred around 6 p.m. near the Brann Avenue intersection as Culleton drove west toward Manchester.

Early reports said the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and swerved right to avoid traffic that was stopped, near the point where the two westbound lanes converge into one, according to Mills. The car left the road and hit a tree head-on just a few feet off the road.

Mills said police have been told that Culleton was discharged honorably recently from the Marines -- a "Semper Fi" bumper sticker could be seen on the back of his car -- but have not confirmed his service. Attempts to reach Culleton's family and friends Wednesday were unsuccessful.

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