Pursuit and fatal crash on I-95 – UPDATE

10:29 a.m. Jan. 13

A tractor trailer failed to slow in traffic, striking a vehicle from behind and pushing it under a semi stopped in front of it.

YORK — Maine State Police have learned that two people died in the crash that occurred on Jan. 12.

As a result of reconstruction and investigative efforts, police learned that a major police incident that was being investigated on the southbound side of I-95 caused traffic to slow on the northbound side. A Freightliner tractor-trailer loaded with large paper rolls being driven by Lakhveer Gill, 40, of Brantford, Ontario, was traveling north, behind him was a 2014 Lexus RX230, driven by Geoffrey Gattis, 68, with his wife Elizabeth Gattis, 68, of Falmouth, in the passenger seat. Both vehicles had slowed down when an unloaded tractor-trailer driven by David Herring, 38, of South Portland, failed to recognize traffic had slowed and struck the Lexus from behind. The force of the impact pushed the car into the back of the first tractor-trailer, crushing the smaller vehicle. Both occupants were found deceased.

The investigation is ongoing. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors. Once the investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the York District Attorney’s Office.


10:26 a.m. Jan. 13

YORK — A Topsham man is facing multiple felonies after leading police on a high-speed pursuit from Kennebunk to York.

On Jan. 12, law enforcement received approximately six calls regarding an erratic driver on I-95. Trooper Lee Vanadestine saw the whi

A trooper in pursuit of Stoddard lost control of his cruiser and crashed into a guardrail.

te 2002 Ford Super Duty pickup that was towing a U-Hail trailer. The trooper pursued the truck, which failed to stop and continued at high rates of speed through three lanes of traffic. After witnessing the vehicle nearly strike other motorists, the trooper attempted to end the chase but lost control of his cruiser and crashed into the guardrail on the median, disabling the cruiser. The trooper sustained minor injuries.

Trooper Jarrot MacKinnon became lead on the pursuit. A Kittery police officer attempted to deploy spike matts to disable the vehicle, but was unsuccessful.

A Kittery Police lieutenant had parked in the mile marker 4.5 crossover in an attempt to assist in the pursuit. The truck rammed the Kittery Police cruiser while the officer was still inside. Kittery Police Lieutenant John Desjardins received minor injuries.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as David Stoddard, 49, of Topsham. He was taken into custody, inuring Trooper MacKinnon, and transported to York Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. He will be charged with elevated aggravated assault, aggravated reckless conduct, aggravated driving to endanger and eluding. Lt. Desjardins, Tpr. Vanadestine and Tpr. MacKinnon were all treated and released.


5:53 p.m. Jan. 12

YORK — Maine State Police and Kittery and York Police were involved in pursuing an erratic vehicle, and are also investigating a fatal accident that occurred on I-95 in southern Maine.

On Jan. 12, around 1:17 p.m.,  Maine State Police were involved in a pursuit on the Maine Turnpike southbound from Kennebunk through York which ended with the suspect crashing in the center median at approximately Mile Marker 4 (near the border of York and Kittery).  This event slowed and stopped traffic in both the north and southbound lanes. Authorities received at least six complaints of erratic operation prior to the pursuit. Three law enforcement officers received minor injuries –  two as a result of the pursuit and one while taking the driver of the erratic vehicle into custody. The driver was transported to an area hospital for minor injuries and charges are expected.

At approximately 2:11 p.m., traffic had slowed considerably and stopped in both the north and southbound lanes. A vehicle travelling in the northbound lane was struck from behind by a tractor trailer and pushed under the stopped tractor trailer in front of it. This is a fatal accident and police are working to contact next of kin, clear the scene and reconstruct the crash. The District Attorney’s Office will review this crash once the investigation is complete. I-95 Northbound will be closed until further notice and traffic is being diverted to Exit 3.

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