St. Dom’s student, father killed in accident on Route 202 in Leeds

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Editor’s update: Three days after this accident, and after State Police reconstructed the scene, police determined that Ghislain Cloutier did not cross the centerline. He was driving west toward Lewiston. The second car, heading east and driven by Ralph Ryder Jr. of Livermore, crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into the Cloutier Accord. The initial witness report was incorrect.

LEEDS — Police have identified the father-and-son victims of a Tuesday morning fatal car crash as Ghislain B. Cloutier, 49, and his son, Casey, 14, of Winthrop.

Ghislain and Casey appear to have been en route to Auburn before turning the car around, Androscoggin County Sherrif’s Department Capt. Ray Lafrance said.

“We’re not sure if they forgot something and they turned around and started heading back toward their house,” Lafrance said. “That’s what we theorize.”

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The Cloutier’s silver 2007 Honda Accord, headed east and driven by Ghislain, crossed the centerline on Route 202 near Leeds Junction Road around 8:11 a.m. and struck a red 2003 Ford Explorer driven by Ralph Ryder Jr., 59, of Livermore head-on, according to Lafrance.

“There are no skid marks,” he said. “No brakes were applied on either vehicle. It happened, according to the witness, so fast. It was a very, very tragic accident.”

Both Cloutiers died at the scene, according to police. Ryder was taken to Central Maine Medical Center. He was initially listed in critical condition but was upgraded to stable condition by the afternoon.

The accident closed Route 202 for nearly four hours. It remains under investigation.

“A car that was right in back of Mr. Ryder witnessed the whole thing,” Lafrance said. “We don’t know why he suddenly crossed into the other lane, so we’re looking into that.”

Leeds and Greene fire departments and Turner Rescue responded. Maine State Police are reconstructing the accident.

Lafrance said Casey was a junior varsity hockey player at St. Dominic Academy.

Don Fournier, president of St. Dom’s, said Casey had just transferred to the school in August.

“We sent out emails to our families today,” Fournier said. “We’ll have people in the school tomorrow morning available and also on Monday morning.

“We’ll look at Tuesday to see if we need it as well,” Fournier said. “We do have a Mass scheduled on Wednesday, so we’re making that into more of a memorial Mass.

“Our hearts are definitely with our family, and it’s time for St. Dom’s to come together as our bigger family and support and pray for them. That’s what we do.”

As for the hockey team, Fournier said, with games scheduled on Friday and Saturday, they will have to “play it by ear.” Fournier said he would like to see the team do something in Casey’s memory but for now, he’s leaving that up to the family’s wishes.

Dave St. Hilaire said he was Casey’s assistant coach for a couple years in middle school and had played hockey against Ghislain in adult leagues. 

“Great kid — just a rink rat,” St. Hilaire said. “He’d eat, drink, sleep hockey and his father was the same way.”

Speaking as a coach, St. Hilaire said, “He’d go through a brick wall for you.”

St. Hilaire remembers Casey as a hardworking, respectful, polite kid. “If Casey wasn’t in bed or at a hockey tournament, you could see him at a local rink.”

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