Skip to comments.Seven killed in SUV crash (Vehicle of death alert)
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 ...
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.
> 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.
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..
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org