AUBURN — A New Gloucester man whose car crossed the centerline and fatally struck a motorcyclist in 2017 pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a manslaughter charge.
Steven Primavera, 34, appeared in Androscoggin County Superior Court a month after a grand jury handed up an indictment for the felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Primavera remains free on $1,000 cash bail with special conditions of no possession of alcohol or illegal drugs.
According to a police report, Primavera had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system at the time of the Sept. 22, 2017, crash on Court Street, near Western Avenue.
The drugs detected in his system from blood analysis included methadone and Xanax, both prescription drugs. Primavera told police he had gone to a methadone clinic at 7 a.m. that day. The crash occurred at 5:52 p.m.
In an interview with police, Primavera said he had gotten lost and was checking street signs and the GPS on his cellphone for directions.
“He was confused on the route he traveled to arrive at the location he was at and was looking around in an attempt to find his location,” according to a report written by Detective Terrence McCormick.
Primavera told police his tire struck the curbing at the right edge of his westbound lane. Then his 2006 Chrysler “shot across the opposite side of the road into the path of two motorcycles that were riding side by side” eastbound, he told McCormick in an interview in the back of a police cruiser parked at the crash scene.
After striking the 2013 Harley-Davidson driven by Reginald Clement, 54, of Starks, Primavera’s car continued in the eastbound lane into a tree at the side of the road.
Two witnesses following Primavera’s car told police they did not see his tire hit the curb before it veered into the path of the oncoming motorcycle. A vehicle autopsy showed no signs of damage to confirm Primavera’s account, while marks on the curb did not indicate his tire had struck the curb at the time of the crash, according to McCormick’s report.
He wrote that Primavera’s speech was “slow and deliberate” immediately after the crash, but, “I did not smell any odors of intoxicating liquors emitting from Primavera” during questioning.
McCormick wrote that he suspected Primavera “might have some degree of impairment from the (methadone) he admitted taking earlier that day.”
Police noted a long skid mark from Clement’s motorcycle. His wife, Kathryn, who was following Clement, told police she saw her husband’s motorcycle “wiggle from side to side” as he applied his brakes. Her husband was thrown from his motorcycle upon impact with the car, she said. His motorcycle traveled in her direction, “spinning and barrel rolling” until it came to rest next to her.
She said Primavera’s car did not hit anything before it crossed into her lane. The car did not attempt to avoid her husband’s motorcycle, she said, but kept on a straight path toward him.
Clement was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where he was pronounced dead. Witnesses said Clement was unconscious and did not have a pulse when first responders arrived at the scene of the accident. A nurse who responded to the crash administered CPR, witnesses said.
A Maine State Police trooper told McCormick no mechanical problems were found on Primavera’s car that might have contributed to the crash.
Messages on his cellphone show no activity from 1:25 a.m. until 5:55 p.m. on Sept. 22, when he wrote to his girlfriend that he “hit a motorcycle head on.”
A second message from him informed his girlfriend that police intended to draw his blood, “so I might go to jail.”
McCormick wrote in his report, “Primavera knew he had drugs in his system that impaired his driving ability as indicated in the above text message.”
A fatal crash scene involving a car and a motorcycle in Auburn in September 2017. (Sun Journal file photo)
Steven Primavera (Sun Journal file photo)