Shane Everett, 14, hit by drunk driver on Hunter Road

November 4, 2009: Shane Everett was walking on Hunter Road when he was hit by John Fortier of Lewiston. Mr. Fortier has been charged with OUI. The boy was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he remained in critical condition late Thursday night, a nursing supervisor said.

At Peter Thompson & Associates, our personal injury law specialists and private investigators have handled similar cases. In this case, it is likely that the driver will claim that, despite his level of intoxication, he could not have avoided the collision with the boy because of the lighting conditions and the color of the boy’s clothes. It will be necessary, as in past cases we have handled, to establish that the delayed reaction time by the driver due to his intoxication was the cause of the accident. Our legal team has employed experts in the effects of intoxication on reaction time and have successfully established that accidents could have easily been avoided but for the driver’s impaired reaction time. We have also conducted simulations under near-idential conditions to show how even small fractions of time can mean the difference between whether it was possible to avoid hitting a pedestrian walking along the side of the road. These simulations have involved, among other things, placing a video camera in a vehicle operating in the same direction as the drunk driver at the lawful speed and having someone walk along the same side of the road in the same type of clothes that our client was wearing at the time of the collision. This type of visual information is extremely persuasive in establishing that the collision could have been avoided.

We also look at whether the driver of vehicle was operating his vehicle above the speed limit. It is possible by looking at scuff marks in the road in relation to where the pedestrian ultimately landed and other physical evidence at the accident scene, including any damage to the vehicle, to determine the speed of the vehicle immediately prior to the collision. Witness statements, if any, are also critical to determining the cause of the accident. It is critical in a case such as this that the matter be investigated as soon as possible to prevent physical evidence from being lost and to preserve witness recollections.

While police investigations will reconstruct accidents using some of these techniques, it is rare that official investigations are as thorough as the type our office conducts.