(PORTLAND, Maine) July 30, 2020 – Two pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in just a three-day period this week in Portland and Bucksport.
A 76-year-old man was struck and killed by the driver of a black sedan on a baseball field in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park on Sunday night.
Two days later, a Minnesota man, 47, died in a crash in Bucksport after a car crossed the center line and struck him in the oncoming breakdown lane.
The victim in the Portland tragedy was Celestin Muhizi—a husband, father of nine children, and former educator who survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and moved to Maine just last year.
The driver in that crash has been identified by police as Jonathan Burt, 29, of Lisbon. Burt has a lengthy criminal record and was subsequently charged with manslaughter, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, operating under the influence, operating without a license, and violation of conditions of release.
Deering Oaks Park was relatively crowded at approximately 5:20 p.m. on Sunday when Burt was inexplicably spotted driving across the ballfield’s grass, plowing into the bleachers behind home plate, and striking the Muhizi, who was taken to a local hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
Police report that both Burt and his passenger were treated for drug overdose symptoms.
The driver in the Bucksport crash is from Orland, and police say he may have experienced a medical event that contributed to the collision. The victim’s name has not yet been released.
“We are shocked and saddened by these two tragic deaths,” said Jean Sideris, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “Pedestrians should feel safe walking everywhere in Maine.”
“The Coalition urges Mainers to slow down, be aware of conditions and surroundings, and never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Sideris added.