More than four years after she crashed her truck, killing a friend riding in the back seat, an Eastbrook woman pleaded no contest on Monday to a reduced charge of aggravated driving to endanger.

Darlene Haslam, 58, received a fully suspended sentence of one year of incarceration and one year of probation, which means she will not have to spend any time behind bars if she successfully completes her probation without any violations or facing any new criminal charges. The terms of her probation prohibit her from drinking to excess and require her to submit to random search and testing for excessive alcohol use.

On Nov. 15, 2017, Haslam was slowly driving a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Eastbrook Community Center on Route 200 when it struck an unmarked guide wire attached to a utility pole. She then stepped on the gas, causing the truck to accelerate across the road and strike a tree at 27 mph, according to documents filed in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court.

Riding in the front passenger seat was Haslam’s husband, who wasn’t injured. In the back seat, married couple Scott and Trudy Pickard both suffered serious injuries, and Trudy Pickard died three days later at a Bangor hospital.

Although police obtained a blood sample from Haslam not long after the crash that showed her blood alcohol level above the 0.08 percent minimum allowed by law, the test results were later thrown out. A judge ruled that police should have first obtained a warrant before collecting the sample.

Haslam was charged with manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, and aggravated driving to endanger. The manslaughter and aggravated criminal OUI charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal with the Hancock County District Attorney’s office.

Haslam told police she had consumed three glasses of wine at a gathering in Franklin before driving home with the group, but police and her passengers said she showed no visible signs of impairment. Haslam was not given a field sobriety test at the crash scene.

Haslam’s defense attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, said that neither of the Pickards were wearing seat belts during the crash. Neither those involved in the crash nor their friends blamed  Haslam for what happened, he said.

She has no prior criminal record and is remorseful for what happened, Tzovarras said. She has been in counseling as well.

“It’s a tragedy for both of them,” he said of the families involved. “It’s probably as close to a fair outcome as we could hope for for everyone.”

Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

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....