DURHAM – Driver error was the likely cause of the fiery crash that claimed the lives of two men last month at the intersection of Hallowell and Rabbit roads, according to a Maine State Police report released Thursday.
Primary investigator Trooper Martin Royle found that mechanical failure, road or weather conditions, speed and the presence of intoxicating substances were not factors in the Sept. 21 wreck, in which a pickup truck collided with a dump truck at the intersection.
The report also found that the pickup truck involved in the crash was driven by 24-year-old Brandon J. Harthorne of Cornish. Media accounts the day of the crash listed a different driver, based on witness reports at the collision site.
Police said Harthorne failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection, which led to the deadly collision.
Harthorne, who was not wearing a seat belt, died instantly of head trauma as he was ejected from the truck, police said. Also killed was 21-year-old Malakai X. Cawood of Limington, who was ejected through the truck’s rear passenger door on the driver’s side of the pickup.
A front passenger in the truck, 35-year-old Jeremy J. Reardon of Limington, was also not wearing a seat belt, police said. He was taken by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Reardon survived the crash, but his family has requested that the hospital cease releasing information about his condition.
The driver of the dump truck, 42-year-old Clifton Larrabee of Durham, also survived the crash.
The police report describes the moments leading up to the fatal crash.
“On the morning of Sept. 21, 2016, a black 2003 Chevrolet pickup containing three men was traveling eastbound on Runaround Pond Road in the town of Durham,” the report begins. “As the pickup, owned by Plowman Construction of Gorham, reached the junction of Hallowell Road (Route 9) and Rabbit Road, the operator failed to stop at a stop sign. As the vehicle entered the junction it collided with a Volvo dump truck that was traveling southbound along Hallowell Road.
“The force of the impact,” the report continues, “caused the dump truck owned by Larrabee Construction of Durham to rotate 180 degrees and tip on to its left side. The pickup rotated violently and two of its three occupants were ejected. The pickup also caught fire.”