A car rests against trees after it rolled and crashed on the Park Loop Road in the early morning hours of Saturday. Praneeth Manubolu, 28, allegedly was driving the vehicle and has been charged with causing the deaths of three passengers who died in the crash, according to park officials. Credit: Acadia National Park

The federal government will hold without bail a man accused of causing the deaths of three people in Acadia National Park during the holiday weekend.

Praneeth Manubolu, 28, was arrested and charged in federal court with causing the deaths of three people who died when a car he was driving crashed early Saturday morning on Park Loop Road, according to documents filed in federal court.

The crash occurred not far from where the one-way section of the road begins, near the trailhead for the Gorge Path, which follows a valley between Dorr and Cadillac mountains. The three passengers who died in the crash were Lenny Fuchs, 36, Laura Leong, 30, and Mohammad Zeeshan, 27, all of New York City, park officials said Tuesday.

Praneeth Manubolu. Credit: Hancock County Jail

Manubolu, who was held over the weekend at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, made his first appearance in federal court in Bangor at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Magistrate Judge John Nivison ordered him held without bail until at least Sept. 10, when a detention hearing will be held at 3 p.m.

Court documents list him as a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey, but also say he is a foreign national. Manubolu is a citizen of India and, if convicted, could be deported, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Federal prosecutors sought to continue to detain Manubolu without bail, calling him a “serious” flight risk, according to a motion filed in federal court in Bangor.

Manubolu appeared in federal court on Tuesday with bandages on his face and arm. Nivision explained his rights and informed him that he might not be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer depending on his income level. Until that is determined, James Nixon, a public defender, will represent Manubolu.

Nixon declined to comment Tuesday. Prosecutor Raphaelle Silver also declined to comment on the ongoing investigation into the crash.

Following the crash, Manubolu told police he and other occupants of the vehicle had been out drinking in Bar Harbor prior to the crash, which occurred at 2:47 a.m., according to an affidavit filed in court.

“As a result of the crash, Praneeth Manubolu had a few cuts and scrapes,” Ranger Brian Dominy wrote in the affidavit. “Based upon skid marks and vehicle damage, it appears as though [Manubolu] was travelling well over the posted speed limit of 25 mph on the Park Loop Road.”

While Manubolu is being charged in federal court because the crash occurred at the national park, he could be subject to Maine’s maximum punishment for a Class A manslaughter conviction: 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. In their court complaint against Manubolu, prosecutors cite the Assimilative Crimes Act, under which federal law mirrors that of a state in circumstances of alleged criminal behavior that Congress has not specifically addressed.

Therese Picard, deputy chief ranger at Acadia, declined to comment directly on the crash because the investigation is ongoing. However, she said, “I don’t remember the last time we had a fatal accident in the park of this severity.”

BDN writers Eesha Pendharkar and Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

Correction: Due to inaccurate information provided by Acadia National Park, an earlier version of this report listed the first and last names of one of the victims in the wrong order.

Avatar photo

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....