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Seven killed in SUV crash (Vehicle of death alert)
AP ^ | Monday, May 10, 2004

Posted on 05/11/2004 10:01:19 AM PDT by presidio9

A rented SUV was speeding at more than 90 mph when it clipped a car it was trying to pass and veered out of control, killing seven people inside, including four young children, authorities said.

The Ford Explorer went airborne, slammed into trees in the median of Interstate 95 and landed on its roof. The accident happened Sunday about 10 miles west of Bangor in south-central Maine.

Two women and a child died when they were thrown from the SUV, while its other four occupants -- a woman and three children -- died inside. Troopers initially thought five people died, but two additional bodies were found when the SUV was lifted, authorities said.

The victims were from South Portland, and four of the children were 8 or younger, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

Killed were Kelley Armstrong, 28, and her 4-year-old son; Danielle St. Paulin, 29, and her three children; and Hope Gagnon, 29. St. Paulin's children ranged in age from 4 to 8.

The Explorer was rented from Hertz at the Portland International Jet Port earlier in the day.

(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Maine
KEYWORDS: suvs; vehicleofdeath
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To: csvset
>>She had met a man over the Internet who lived in Fort Kent

Good God that's WAY up there; it's the terminus of I-95.
Many, many hours from Bangor and Portland. Maybe she was in a big hurry to get there and was speeding. 90 mph!
41 posted on 05/11/2004 11:11:44 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: raccoonradio
According to Yahoo Maps:
Leaving: Portland, ME
Arriving at: Fort Kent, ME

Distance: 313.4 miles
Approximate Travel Time: 6 hours 40 mins

She's taking 6 other people with her to meet this man,
over such a distance (and going 90 mph to try to get there
at a reasonable time)...it's like saying "OK everyone,
let's drive from Boston to Philadelphia so we can spend
a couple hours with this man I've talked to online..."
42 posted on 05/11/2004 11:14:17 AM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: presidio9
Chalk it up to another person who is clueless about lane change etiquette:

1) When changing lanes to the left, traffic in the lane to your left has the right-of-way. Wait for a safe opening.

2) When changing lanes to the right, you have the right of way, and traffic should yield to you. I think about 75% of traffic accidents are caused by nimrods who don't follow this rule, and try to speed up to to get ahead of cars signalling an intended lane change to the right.

3) (Corollary to rule 2) Never pass on the right. Exception: if a doofus in the fast lane is doing 50 - even then, be wary, for he's probably dumb enough to make a sudden, no-signal lane change just as you start to pass.

4) Change ONE lane at a time unless the road is empty. California drivers seem to love to stay in the fast lane until a quarter-mile from their exit, then make a majestic, four-lane swoop (often with no signal) to hit the offramp just in time. That causes another 20% of all accidents.

5) ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, use your turn signal. It is not optional.

Additional observations:

> Watch for the "flinch". I've noticed that cars who seem to make a slight jerk to one side within their lanes are about to make a late- or no-signal lane change.

> The dumbest drivers on the road are white women (usually with kids) in minivans or SUVs - they won't do risky things, but they will hesitate when faced with making quick decisions.

> The most dangerous drivers on the road are white or Asian men in new, low-end BMW's or Mercedes Benz's (probably leased). They think they are Jeff Gordon on the Autobahn.

> If you are a white male pedestrian, never step into the crosswalk when a black female bus driver is anywhere nearby. She will relish the opportunity to add your jogging shorts to her trophy case.

> Pedestrians in Berkeley, California pay absolutely no attention to traffic signals, crosswalks, or the rules of courtesy. You are "car scum" and are expected to stop and wait for them whenever they feel like crossing the street. This may be true in other leftist enclaves, too.

43 posted on 05/11/2004 11:18:23 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves
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To: presidio9
If my Tahoe ever does that. "I'll just die".
44 posted on 05/11/2004 11:25:27 AM PDT by showme_the_Glory (No more rhyming, and I mean it! ..Anybody got a peanut.....)
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To: raccoonradio
While the deaths are tragic, consider that so many things contributed to this accident. I don't have an SUV but I'll bet anyone who drives one recklessly risks getting into an accident like this.

Anyone that drives risks getting killed. The faster the vehicle is traveling, the greater the chances of dying, regardless of make or model of vehicle. She bought the farm for everyone due to her stupidity and ignorance. Most people out there are poor to average drivers at best, and 95 percent should never drive over 50 mph, as they have no idea how to regain control of a vehicle once they lose control. The faster the speed, the greater the chances of losing control.

Everyone on board that vehicle paid for her stupidity with their lives..

45 posted on 05/11/2004 11:27:52 AM PDT by Joe Hadenuf (I failed anger management class, they decided to give me a passing grade anyway)
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To: TommyDale
Why bother to even mention the term 'SUV'?

It should be "Ford Explorer" up there instead of SUV. Many SUVs are fairly safe, but the Ford Explorer, like the old F-150, is a deathtrap in an accident like this. But to Ford's credit, they're fairly safe now after the recent redesign.

46 posted on 05/11/2004 11:40:11 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: SandyInSeattle; LonghornFreeper
there is nothing that an SUV does that a minivan doesn't do better.

Can your minivan comfortably transport three kayaks, two motorcycles, a teenager, and four cats from Southern California to Washington state via Lake Tahoe through the worst snow storm in several years?

I didn't think so!


It amazes me how this issue fires people up. Relax. You have a good reason for having an SUV. And even if you didn't, even if you just wanted one, no one here is suggesting that you give yours up.
But, I do think the emphasis on SUVs is kind of crazy. I remember when Broncos and Blazers were just cheap trucks with a factory installed cap. No one wanted one of the darn things, they were work trucks. Now, everyone wants one. EVERYONE. My daughter, she's 19, wants a Silverado. Why? Does she have something to haul? No! It's big, and it's "cool".
Look at the points logically, and I think it makes sense. First, there are alternatives to SUVs, many that serve the driver better. Second, there are lots of people with questionable judgement. A questionable driver in a vehicle they aren't suited for can lead to trouble. Just as not everyone should ride a motorcycle. Third, an SUV does use more gas. It's your right to consume gas, but is it wise?
No, I don't favor regulating or banning SUVs, or motorcycles, or convertibles. But, it would be nice if we, as a people kind of woke up and realized that just because you drive the biggest SUV on the block doesn't mean you are cool, or better than your neighbors.
47 posted on 05/11/2004 11:41:05 AM PDT by brownsfan (I didn't leave the democratic party, the democratic party left me.)
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To: presidio9
An SUV is not a car, it is a truck. If you don't normally drive one, it can take some getting used to. I rented an SUV on a trip last year, it's a LOT of vehicle (and I am used to driving a minivan.)
48 posted on 05/11/2004 11:44:34 AM PDT by Alouette (Lesson of "The Last Samurai"=Don't bring swords to a machine-gun fight)
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To: Mr. Jeeves
> The dumbest drivers on the road are white women (usually with kids) in minivans or SUVs - they won't do risky things, but they will hesitate when faced with making quick decisions.

Oh yah, and what the hell is it with driving onto an on ramp at 40mph, taking a lane on a freeway..and then accelerating. Or even better, treating a merge like a 1-way stop sign.

Plus-Idiots in Washington State tailgate each other on on ramps, then try to merge as a 200 foot long Conga Line. I think this is because Seattle is a latently gay..at best.

The most dangerous drivers on the road are white or Asian men in new, low-end BMW's or Mercedes Benz's (probably leased). They think they are Jeff Gordon on the Autobahn.

And always Pearl-essent Metallic white with gold accents. It's called DWA. Driving While Asian. Beware of the Beijing Blitz!

If you are a white male pedestrian, never step into the crosswalk when a black female bus driver is anywhere nearby. She will relish the opportunity to add your jogging shorts to her trophy case.

Holy Crap! Carpe Blanc?

Pedestrians in Berkeley, California pay absolutely no attention to traffic signals, crosswalks, or the rules of courtesy. You are "car scum" and are expected to stop and wait for them whenever they feel like crossing the street. This may be true in other leftist enclaves, too.

Oh yah, and letting their Earth Muffin Larva trail 30 feet behind them in the street, then yelling "SLOW DOWN" at passing cars traveling the legal speed.

49 posted on 05/11/2004 11:47:47 AM PDT by Dead Dog
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To: LonghornFreeper
my minivan got us to 200,000 miles, but that was because I put so much dang money into it that I felt I had to keep driving it....

three transmissions and an engine plus many other repairs.....

we sold it cheaply to a neighbor who also was a member of our church...we gave him the bare bones about the van, he bought it anyway, and the transmission went out on him in two weeks...(4 transmissions !).

I can barely look at him in church....

there might be some good minivans out there, but I personally have had it....

50 posted on 05/11/2004 11:55:50 AM PDT by cherry
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To: antiRepublicrat
"Many SUVs are fairly safe, but the Ford Explorer, like the old F-150, is a deathtrap in an accident like this."

I don't know of any vehicles (except NASCAR racing) that are designed to provide safety at 90+MPH. This is a case of driver negligence and stupidity, not an unsafe vehicle.

51 posted on 05/11/2004 11:58:59 AM PDT by TommyDale
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To: brownsfan
I forgot my smiley face, sorry! :-)

It annoys me also that many people who drive SUVs do so for the "look". We see SUVs here that have never known mud or snow. At least ours works for a living, but around here most of them don't. They're just "urban assault vehicles" for pissed off soccer moms.

52 posted on 05/11/2004 11:59:05 AM PDT by SandyInSeattle (You need tons click "co-ordinating")
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To: TommyDale
This is a case of driver negligence and stupidity, not an unsafe vehicle.

No, that vehicle is just unsafe. At 40mph into a barrier those in the front sustain serious, possibly critical, injury, where in safer cars there would be little or no injury. The problem is that the cabin collapses onto the occupants, and depending on the year of the car, the door pops open to let the occupant's head through.

53 posted on 05/11/2004 12:03:34 PM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: LonghornFreeper
there is nothing that an SUV does that a minivan doesn't do better.

Exactly, I was at a Dodge dealership the other day pricing minivans. The salesman actually told me minivans were obsolete and tried to get me to look at SUVs. I went elsewhere, a minivan suits my needs. If I wanted a SUV I'd shop for one. Are all the dealerships pushing these things this way?
54 posted on 05/11/2004 12:50:46 PM PDT by BabsC
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To: traumer
The reason of SUV drivers cruising at a high speed is because the drivers sit HIGH above the road. They have a distorted impression of their speed. There is no 'ground effect' as in a low sports car.

And besides that they feel invulnerable.

You forgot to tell us what they had for breakfast. Since you obviously know everything else about SUV drivers why didn't you throw that in to really emphasize your point.

55 posted on 05/11/2004 12:58:29 PM PDT by N. Theknow
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To: presidio9
"A rented SUV was speeding at more than 90 mph when it clipped a car it was trying to pass and veered out of control, killing seven people inside, including four young children BEFORE TAKING IT'S OWN LIFE."
56 posted on 05/11/2004 1:00:20 PM PDT by montag813 ("A nation can survive fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.")
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To: antiRepublicrat
We are all aware that the Ford Explorer has its design problems, and safety problems. The point is, ANY vehicle that is out of control at over 90 MPH is unsafe! These people would likely have died if the driver were driving anything short of a Bradley Tank.
57 posted on 05/11/2004 2:00:12 PM PDT by TommyDale
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To: two23
Some kids are put in seat belts when they are still too small to be restrained securely in them.

Yes, that may explain the child, but of the three people thrown from the vehicle, it was reported that two of them were women, and presumably of adult size.

If it were me, the only way I wouldn't be in a seat belt of a vehicle going 90, would be to try to jump out if the driver ever had to slow to 25! Clearly, the SUV part of this story is the least of it, it was the behavior of the occupants, particularly the driver, that turned this into a tragedy.

58 posted on 05/11/2004 2:21:41 PM PDT by hunter112
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To: presidio9

Malfunction ruled out in crash


Copyright © 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Mechanical malfunction did not cause the high-speed crash Sunday that killed the seven occupants of a sport utility vehicle outside Bangor, police said Tuesday.

Investigators pried open the wreckage of the rented 2004 Ford Explorer and analyzed the car's components. They searched for any malfunction that could have contributed to one of the deadliest accidents in state history, which killed three women and four young children from South Portland. Police found no defects in the vehicle, which had been driven just 1,100 miles.

Police also discovered nothing to shed light on why the driver would have swerved into the breakdown lane while going more than 90 mph in an effort to pass two cars that were side-by-side on Interstate 95. There were no alcoholic beverages in the car. Two vials of medication recovered from the wreckage were prescribed to two of the women and would not have compromised their driving, police said.

"There are going to be a lot of questions we probably will never have an answer to," said Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland. "Why they were going so fast and why most of them were not belted are questions we will probably never know the answer to."

The three women set out after lunch on Mother's Day, having told friends they were planning a day trip to Fort Kent to meet a man that one of them had been communicating with over the Internet. That woman, Hope Stuart Gagnon, 29, had her three children with her: Deion Stuart, 8; T'keyah Stuart, 6; and Ariana Stuart, 4. Kelley Armstrong, 28, brought her 4-year-old son, Kristian Armstrong-Smith.

Danielle Saint Paulin, 29, came by herself. She had considered bringing her 13-year old daughter but decided against it.

Investigators found nothing in the car to indicate where the women were headed.

"We're going to give the vehicle one more good going-over (today) to make sure nothing anywhere would give us a clue where they were going to or coming from," said Lt. Wesley Hussey. "As of right now, we have nothing."

Police believe Gagnon was driving when the Explorer came up quickly behind two cars and swerved abruptly into the narrow shoulder along the right side of the interstate. As the Explorer pulled even with Nikki Yawn's 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee they bumped lightly, barely creasing a flange over the Cherokee's front right tire.

But investigators suspect that contact was enough, combined with the narrow breakdown lane and the rumble strip, to make the Explorer carom right, then swerve left as the driver overcorrected.

A series of black skid marks stretched across the two northbound lanes of the interstate, indicating the car was probably sliding sideways, police said.

"Instinct is going to tell you to hit the brakes. Whether or not they did, who knows," Hussey said. "Talking to the reconstructionist, they were probably either going into a sideways skid or were into it already as they were crossing the pavement."

The vehicle does have an event data recorder, a so-called black box, but the information police were able to recover from it was in a form that was not useful, Hussey said. Investigators decided the standard accident reconstruction should yield the information needed without the electronic data.

Police said the license of the likely driver, Gagnon, was suspended in 1997 after an accident and civil suit in Virginia. Officials in that state would release no details about the accident.

Police in Maine said Tuesday they are conducting special tests to be sure Gagnon was the driver. The crash was so violent that Gagnon and two other occupants were thrown from the vehicle.

"We're not putting a lot of emphasis on who was driving and who was sitting where. We believe she was driving, but we're trying not to put it too, too hard in stone," Hussey said.

One reason police believe Gagnon was driving is that witnesses say they saw her getting into the driver's seat while the SUV was pulled over two miles before the crash site, less than two minutes before it happened.

"We're very confident it was her, but we would like to obviously have something definitive from the crime lab if they were able to get it," McCausland said.

Evidence collection specialists planned to compare fibers found on the car's upholstery with the clothing worn by the occupants. The state medical examiner also will study the occupants' injuries for clues about where they were when the vehicle crashed.

Police have yet to receive the results of blood-alcohol tests that are required in fatal car accidents, and they also have sought blood tests to determine if any medications or drugs were involved.

Police believe only Saint Paulin and Deion Stuart were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Police have not aggressively pursued the reason behind the women's trip north, in part because they have not launched a criminal investigation.

"There is going to be no prosecution. It's more of finding out what was happening," Hussey said. Police were conducting interviews in Portland and planned to explore the possibility they were headed to Fort Kent, he said.

The situation is something of a mystery around Fort Kent.

At Rock's Diner, the restaurant where many of the locals go to eat, patrons talked about the situation Tuesday morning, but without much certainty. Some said they might know who the Internet acquaintance was, but most said they didn't.

Rumors, patrons said, get around quickly in a town, which has a population of just over 4,000.

"It's the first time I heard Fort Kent's involved," said Manzer Belanger, the town's postmaster, who read about the accident in a local newspaper. "And I would have heard about it."

In Carmel, where the accident happened, state troopers and local emergency personnel held a critical-incident debriefing Tuesday as part of the process for dealing with the psychological impact of the horrific accident scene and the children involved.

"Maybe they can just help us bring closure," said Carmel Fire Chief Joseph Pelletier.

Staff Writer Giselle Goodman contributed to this report.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com

Source

59 posted on 05/12/2004 9:09:58 AM PDT by csvset
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To: csvset
I knew Kelly, the person that was originally driving. I knew OF the other 2, but none of their children including Kelly's because I have not seen her in many yrs and the one time i did he was in daycare.. anyway.. This accident makes me so angry! it was SO ridiculous! now the families are trying to say that one of the children might have been having an asthma attack and thats why they were going so fast.. they had apparently pulled over a couple miles before the accident to switch drivers, to the driver without a license.. that driver was the child's mother that was supposed to be having this asthma attack.. first of all why would the mother of the child take over driving while panicking about her son.. doesn't make sense, also why would u bring ur son on a 6 hour road trip if he has this condition.. the family is making this all up to try and take some of the anger people are having away.. from what i hear, they told people they were going to make the 6 hour trip in 4 hours. the way i see it is if you want to do something so stupid, fine, whatever.. but why bring ur children, and not only put them in a dangerous situation but not even bother putting seat belts on them.. i don't think seat belts would have protected them from this but you hear all the time about all the adults in the accident dying and a child in a car seat making it out alive.. maybe its just because their bodies are smaller and they don't get hit with as much of the car.. who knows.. its all very very sad. I'm angry, sad and confused on why 3 adults, all with children didn't find it necessary to go at least so mewhere near the speed limit, have the children in seat belts.. and just be...... good mothers, as these papers keep suggesting they were.. Danielle was the only one wearing a seatbelt.. my thought is that when "the driver" started driving crazy, probably showing off, she freaked and put it on, the only reason i think that is if she was an avid seat belt wearer, I'm sure she would have made the children put one on.. its all very sad, and I for one have stopped speeding and always wear my seatbelt.. i definitely got the message
60 posted on 06/09/2004 6:34:07 AM PDT by NikinMaine
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