LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Police in Lewiston are looking for the operator of a vehicle that struck and killed a man, then fled the scene.
48 year old Louie St. Pierre was pronounced dead at the hospital not long after being struck.
It happened just after midnight, early Sunday morning. St. Pierre was struck on Pleasant Street near the intersection of Mitchell Street. The driver did not stop. Police are searching for a White or light colored SUV that may been involved.
“We have several detectives that are currently working diligently on this. We’re looking for anybody that may have witnessed the accident or may have information as to who this driver is or who’s vehicle it is, where the vehicle is”, said Lewiston Police Lt. David St. Pierre.
St. Pierre becomes the 23 pedestrian or cyclist struck and killed by a vehicle in Maine this year, which would make it the deadliest year yet since transportation officials began keeping those records.
“To have 23 deaths of pedestrians and cyclists in Maine this year, with nearly a whole month still to go, is very troubling. Something we’re very concerned about”, said John Williams, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Williams has been working with state transportation and local officials, studying dangerous roadways and intersections, to see if infrastructure changes can make them safer.
In Lewiston, city officials have already taken action, after three pedestrians were killed in the span of a year, inlcudng a 13-year old boy on his way to school. Flashing beacons have been installed at busy crosswalks, and sidewalks have been bumped out, making for a shorter distance pedestrians must travel to cross the street. Police have also stepped up enforcement.
“Every day our officers are out there monitoring school zones, slowing cars down, stopping cars, issuing many warnings, verbal warnings, written warnings and issuing citations when appropriate", St. Pierre said.
But even with more enforcement and safety changes, people working on this issue say drivers and pedestrians must both do a better job of staying focused on their surroundings.
“This is not a number we want to see increasing, so everyone needs to pay more attention and really expect the unexpected when you’re out on the road”, said Williams.
Officials with the state Department of Transportation have been traveling around the state holding forums and workshops on pedestrian safety. They want to hear about dangerous areas in your community and ideas on what can be done to improve them. The next one is this Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm at Oceanside East High School in Rockland.