Cumberland woman dies after being struck by car in Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — A Cumberland woman died after she was hit by a car in the Falmouth Plaza parking lot on Route 1.

Police said Margaret McLeod, of Cumberland, was leaving Wal-Mart and pushing a shopping cart when she was struck by a car driven by Gladys Casale, 78, also of Cumberland, at 2:35 p.m. on Feb. 11.

McLeod was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland, and died the next day. Falmouth police said McLeod was 90, but her family said she was 92.

Police Lt. John Kilbride said his department’s investigation is continuing, but the crash appeared to be an accident. Casale, who was driving a Buick sedan, was not arrested and has not been charged.

Kilbride said the department hopes to complete the investigation in a week or so.

He said Casale was approaching the main entrance of the store when her car struck McLeod, who was thrown across the hood and landed on the pavement. Kilbride said McLeod’s husband was several feet behind her, and was not hit by the car.

Kilbride said police did not initially release any information, other than a routine report about a personal-injury traffic accident, because of McLeod’s age, the fact she didn’t die at the scene, and because the investigation was continuing.

He said the department issues press releases only for more “high-profile” incidents, but not typically for an accident like this, even though McLeod died only a day later. 

Stephanie Kruczek, the asset protection manager for Wal-Mart, said she was in the store when she received a walkie-talkie call that a customer had been hit by a vehicle outside. She and other employees covered McLeod with blankets to keep her warm while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Kilbride said paramedics were at the scene within “a couple of minutes.”

Kruczek said she did not believe Casale was speeding.

“There were a lot of factors that came into play that day,” she said.

Kilbride said Casale cited the sun as the reason she did not see McLeod in the crossing. He said officers confirmed the position of the sun would have made it difficult to see.

He said to his knowledge there had never before been a similar accident involving a car and a pedestrian at the Wal-Mart store.

“I think it was just a tragic accident, but we’re still looking into matter,” Kilbride said.

Kruczek said Wal-Mart will continue to make sure drivers go slowly and are aware of their surroundings.

McLeod’s family is planning a memorial celebration in April.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.