A Woolwich widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of a rented box truck that struck and killed her husband, Barry L. Wyman, two years ago, as well as the Penske Truck Leasing Corp.
Kelly Wyman, 60, sued William P. Young, 58, of Topsham and the firm from which he rented the truck last week in Sagadahoc County Superior Court. She is seeking unspecified damages in the July 31, 2019, death of her 58-year-old husband.
She alleges that Young was “a dangerous driver” with a recent crash history for which he faced criminal charges. The widow claims that the Penske rental agency should have checked Young’s driving history before leasing him the truck even though state law does not require rental companies to conduct such a search.
Young was driving north on Route 1 in Woolwich in a rented 2016 GMC cargo van at about 6:50 a.m. on July 15, 2019, when he crossed the centerline and struck the 1998 Subaru Forester that Barry Wyman was driving head on, according to the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s office.
The Penske van then struck two other southbound cars, a 2005 Subaru driven by Dorothy McCarren, then 40, of Woolwich and a 2014 Subaru Legacy driven by Jacob Schwarz, then 38, of Woolwich.
Police were unable to speak with Young at the scene of the crash but found him later that day at a Penske rental agency in Topsham in the process of renting another box truck, according to the court complaint.
Barry Wyman suffered massive and painful injuries, according to the complaint. He died after spending 17 days in Maine Medical Center in Portland.
The widow is seeking unspecified damages that include compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of companionship and the pain and suffering Barry Wyman experienced in the 2½ weeks after the crash before he died.
Young also has been charged in Sagadahoc County with manslaughter, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger and criminal speeding. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A trial date has not been set.
Attorneys for Young and Penske did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
Young’s criminal history includes a 2016 conviction for speeding at 86 miles per hour in a 70 mile-per-hour zone and a 2019 conviction for failure to stop for a police officer and driving to endanger stemming from a Nov. 5, 2017, single-car wreck, the complaint said.
He was driving in Topsham that day and crossed the centerline of the road, crossed the lane of oncoming traffic and traveled 9 feet off the pavement before striking a light pole near a pedestrian, according to the crash report. Young fled the scene when he saw a police car arrive.
As a result of his convictions in this incident, Young’s license to drive was suspended from Feb. 27, 2019, to April 21, 2019, the complaint said.
The lawsuit claims that Penske was negligent for not checking Young’s publicly available driving and criminal history. It also alleges that if company employees had made those checks or asked him about his driving record, they would not have rented the truck to Young.
“If you’re in the business of taking money to give people trucks, you should be careful about who you give those trucks to,” Kelly Wyman’s attorney, James O’Connell of Lewiston, said Tuesday. “For the sake of public safety, Penske is legally required to be careful in determining whether it is safe to rent someone a truck. They should not rent large commercial trucks to people who are known to be dangerous drivers; that type of carelessness endangers everyone on Maine’s roads.”
Young filed for bankruptcy in December. He listed his assets at $186,880 — $140,000 from a retirement account and the rest in property. He listed his debts at nearly $177,000, with the majority from student loans.
The bankruptcy court granted Kelly Wyman and Schwarz, who also was hit by Young, permission to file claims against Young.
If convicted of the most serious charge of manslaughter, Young faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.