SOUTHWEST HARBOR – With the death of an elderly woman in a parking lot on MDI Tuesday morning, the state’s pedestrian death tallies so far this year already exceed all of last year.
A lot of folks from Southwest Harbor knew the woman who died when she was struck by a tractor-trailer in a parking lot on Village Green Way. Locals remember her fondly.
“I knew the lady well, practically all my life,” said Ralph Reed, owner of Quietside Cafe & Ice Cream Shop.
“She used to walk into town every day,” he said. “I’d say ‘Hi’ to her almost every day of the week.”
He said 89-year-old Charlotte Rich will be missed.
“It’s just a sad situation,” Reed said. “She grew up in Tremont. She was living in the senior housing up behind here, so she probably just walked down.”
Rich is the tenth pedestrian to die in Maine so far this year, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Only eight people died in all of 2018, but 21 deaths were reported in 2017.
“It’s important to remember that fatalities don’t tell the whole story,” said James Tasse, assistant director and advocacy director for the bicycle coalition. “There are lots of injury crashes occurring. Almost one pedestrian a day is hit somewhere in Maine in a reportable crash.”
A summer resident from Tremont was in the parking lot Tuesday morning waiting for the library to open when she heard Rich scream out.
“I look over and it takes a minute to process that this woman is underneath the truck and the back wheels are rolling over her,” the woman said. “I just freaked out and yelled … somebody call 9-11.”
A teen-aged eyewitness said he was with his grandmother who was talking with Rich when the moving delivery truck hit Rich’s cane, causing her to fall.
“Several people responded, several agencies responded, bystanders responded to help to give the assistance that they could,” said Southwest Harbor Police Chief Alan Brown.
“It’s unbelievable. But there is so much traffic and so many people. I was telling my truck drivers today who came in to deliver, ‘Look there is a lot of people around. Just be careful,’” Reed said. “We don’t know whose fault it was, it doesn’t matter at this point. What matters, you know, is just be careful with all these people milling around.”