February 8, 2013

Plea deal in six-car Maine crash allows for illness

Nancy Hazard remembers nothing of the March crash that put her in the hospital for a month.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – A Waterville woman suffered a psychotic break when she caused a six-vehicle crash in March that injured six people, three of them seriously, says the woman's attorney.

click image to enlarge

Nancy Hazard's car lies demolished and overturned on March 18, after it plowed into five vehicles parked at a traffic light in Waterville, sending six peole to the hospital.

Kennebec Journal photo by David Leaming

The disclosure came as Nancy M. Hazard, 46, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated driving to endanger in the crash on College Avenue in Waterville.

Under the plea agreement, if Hazard has no other criminal problems in the next 12 months, she can return to Kennebec County Superior Court to withdraw the guilty plea and instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving to endanger.

The arrangement calls for her to be sentenced to three days in jail and a 30-day license suspension.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the prosecutor's office made an offer to Hazard in December and it was accepted Thursday.

"This is just an unfortunate and heart-rending accident," Hazard's attorney, Luann Calcagni, said Friday. "It was essentially the result of an unforeseen psychotic episode resulting from a mental illness she had been under treatment for. At the time of the accident, she was fully compliant with the treatment recommendation in place at the time."

Calcagni said Hazard agreed to plead guilty because she did not want to put her family or the victims through a trial.

"Nancy did nothing wrong; it's not a case that should ever have been prosecuted," Calcagni said.

Hazard spent a month in the hospital after the crash and still needs treatment for her injuries.

Calcagni said Hazard surrendered her license immediately and has no intention of ever driving again.

Two other people who were injured in the crash on March 18 spent at least 10 days in the hospital. Maloney said those victims agreed to the plea deal. "They just really wanted to have the case over."

Hazard was driving a 2008 Suzuki SX4 south on College Avenue when she hit four cars at a stoplight. A fifth car was pushed into the intersection.

In May, the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office submitted a 34-page report that concluded Hazard was driving 60 to 85 mph at the time of impact, according to Waterville Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey.

During the investigation, Hazard told police that she had no memory of the crash or events leading up to it.

Investigators ruled out the possibility that Hazard was intoxicated. Blood samples taken from her shortly after the crash tested negative for alcohol and illegal drugs, and any prescription medications were at normal levels, authorities have said.

 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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