A 19-year-old woman has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a May 2017 crash in South Thomaston that killed a male passenger of the car she was driving.
Kelsey R. Campbell of South Thomaston was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count each of manslaughter, aggravated operating under the influence and operating beyond license condition or restriction, according to court documents.
Zachary Elwell, 21, of St. George, died in the May 25 crash, when the car Campbell was driving went off the road on Route 131, hitting several trees before rolling over multiple times. The crash threw Elwell from the vehicle and he died of head trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Based on a blood test administered shortly after the crash, Campbell allegedly registered a blood alcohol level of 0.21, more than twice the legal limit, according to an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court by detective Justin Twitchell.
Campbell was 19 at the time of the incident. It is against the law in Maine to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in your system if you are younger than 21.
Two witnesses who passed the 2004 Subaru Outback that Campbell allegedly was driving said they saw the car passing other vehicles and traveling at high rates of speed prior to the crash. One witness estimated that Campbell passed his vehicle going about 85 miles per hour, according to the affidavit. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 50 miles per hour.
Both witnesses stated they saw people laughing in the car, and one said it looked as if the passengers were waving to him. This witness said after the vehicle passed him, he noticed smoke coming from the side of the road and saw Campbell’s car in the trees, the affidavit states.
Campbell told police that Elwell had jumped from the backseat to the front of the vehicle after she asked why no one was in the front with her. Campbell said she did not know if any part of Elwell’s body caught the steering wheel or if she was distracted by this, according to the affidavit.
A Knox County judge set bail at $2,500 cash when Campbell made her initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon, according to a court clerk. Campbell did not enter a plea Wednesday because two of the charges are felonies and she has yet to be indicted by a grand jury.
The maximum punishment for manslaughter in Maine is 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Campbell is scheduled for a dispositional conference on March 1.
Following the incident, Campbell and another passenger were taken to Pen Bay Medical Center for minor injuries.
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