Flowers, candles and other items lay in front of four crosses erected where four Maine Maritime Academy students died Dec. 10, 2022, in a fiery single-vehicle car crash on Route 166. Three other people in the car, including the driver, survived. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

The driver in a Castine car crash that killed four students at Maine Maritime Academy was indicted Friday on 17 criminal charges by a Hancock County grand jury.

Joshua Goncalves-Radding, 20, has been charged with four counts of manslaughter in connection with the crash. The students who died were Brian Kenealy, 20, of York, Chase Fossett, 21, of Gardiner, Luke Simpson, 22, of Rockport, Massachusetts, and Riley Ignacio-Cameron, 20, of Aquinnah, Massachusetts.

Goncalves-Radding, who is from North Babylon, New York, and two other MMA students who were in the 2013 Range Rover survived the crash. It occurred on Dec. 10 just after 2 a.m. as the vehicle was traveling south on Route 166 when it left the roadway and hit a tree before “erupting into flames,” Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss said at the time.

Goncalves-Radding also was indicted Friday on five counts of aggravated criminal OUI, two counts of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, three counts of driving to endanger and one count each of criminal speed, forgery and unlawful use of license.

Of the 17 total charges, 13 are classified as felonies.

The indictment is the first public acknowledgement that police believe alcohol played a role in the deadly crash.

Four of the aggravated criminal OUI charges are Class B felonies and one of the aggravated criminal OUI charges is a Class C felony. Convictions for Class B crimes in Maine are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, while those for Class C crimes are punishable by up to five years incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

Manslaughter is a Class A crime that, with a conviction, carries a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

This isn’t the first time Goncalves-Radding has been accused in an alcohol-related incident. Last October, Goncalves-Radding was charged by police with possession of liquor by a minor after a state trooper stopped a car in Castine for traveling faster than 90 mph and Goncalves-Radding threw alcohol out of the vehicle during the stop, according to state police. The driver in that incident, Luke Simpson, was charged with criminal speed and later died in the Dec. 10 crash.

Robert Granger, Hancock County’s district attorney, said Friday that Goncalves-Radding is estimated to have been driving more than 105 mph when the car went off the road. The car was owned by one of the surviving passengers, Dominick Gecoya, 20, of Middleton, Massachusetts, he said.

He said Goncalves-Radding, Gecoya and the other surviving passenger, Noelle Tavares 20, of North Falmouth, Massachusetts, all suffered serious injuries in the crash.

“I cannot recall a fatal accident in Hancock County of such magnitude in terms of number of victims,” Granger said. “What makes this case especially difficult is all of the victims were mutual friends and also acquaintances of some of the first responders who arrived on scene.”

MMA President Jerald Paul declined to comment, citing the pending charges.

“Today our thoughts are with all the young people involved in the off-campus accident last December and their families,” Paul said.

The crash in Castine is believed to be the deadliest crash that has been prosecuted in Maine in nearly 30 years.

In 1994, a Baileyville man and his three children died when the Volkswagen Beetle he was driving collided head-on with another vehicle on Route 1 in Baring. The driver of the other vehicle later was charged with four counts of manslaughter.

Thirty years ago, four teenagers died on the Maine turnpike when a tractor trailer drifted into the breakdown lane and struck a Ford Escort that had stopped by the side of the highway in Falmouth. The truck driver in that case, Pennsylvania resident Robert Hornbarger, was not charged with manslaughter but pleaded guilty to falsifying his log book — a crime for which he served 98 days in jail.

Maine’s deadliest-ever accident, which did not result in criminal charges being filed, occurred in 2002 when 14 migrant forestry workers from Central America drowned after a van they were riding in drove off a one-lane bridge into a lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Only one passenger survived after escaping out the rear window of the sinking van.

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....