Not enough brake fluid blamed for Bangor Fourth of July Parade Death

8:05 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- There was not enough brake fluid in a city owned fire truck, that was the finding of a police collison reconstruction report into the fatal crash in Bangor's Fourth of July Parade that claimed the life of 63 year Wallace Fenlason. Fenlason was driving the antique tractor that was struck from behind by the city's 1930 Mcann Fire Truck. 

It was 86 degrees and sunny at 12:40 p.m. on the Fourth of July when the crash happened, just as the 1930's era Fire Truck turned from Main Street onto Water Street. Bangor Firefighter Patrick Heathcote was at the wheel of that truck. According to the report, he tried to stop but couldn't.  "Heathcote stated that the brakes failed and the pedal went to the floorboards." the report states.  "Several witnesses also stated they saw Heathcote "standing on the brakes", yet the fire truck did not stop and struck the tractor."  

The investigator said there were flakes of paint embedded in pedal openings of the floorboard.    "It was apparent that the pedals had been pressed into the floorboard with a great amount of force." the report concluded.    

The six ton fire truck hit the tractor and then ran over Fenlason, killing him instantly. The accident reconstruction found the crash happened on the steepest point of the parade route and that the truck's failure to stop was due to an insufficient amount of brake fluid and poor quality brake fluid which introduced air into the brake system.

Water street was not part of the original route. Bangor Police diverted the parade away from a standoff they had with a man in an apartment on Park Street who was firing shots out a window.  City Attorney Norman Heightmann had no comment about the report and would not comment while the city's insurance company is investigating the claim.


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