June 20, 2013

Reports due in crash that killed Berwick teacher

Whether to charge a teenage driver in the April 10 accident hinges on probe results Friday.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

More than two months after the head-on crash that killed a special-education teacher from Berwick, state prosecutors expect to have all of the investigative reports by Friday and decide whether to prosecute the 17-year-old boy who was driving the other vehicle.

A Facebook photo of Amy Harris.

click image to enlarge

A photo of one of the vehicles involved in a fatal crash on Route 4 in Berwick on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, which killed popular special education teacher Amy Harris.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

The crash April 10 on Route 4 killed Amy Harris, 34, and injured her two young children.

The teenage driver, who is from Biddeford, was on his way to school at Berwick Academy, driving south in a Saturn Vue that crossed the center line into the oncoming lane, according to the report prepared by Berwick police Officer Milton Fogg that day.

It has taken more than two months for prosecutors to get everything they need because of the complexity of the investigation, said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, head of the criminal division in the Attorney General's Office.

"It's just taken a long time because of the forensic mapping and the reconstruction and so forth, and the toxicology took some time," said Stokes.

Harris was driving a 2006 Ford Freestyle north on a long, straight section of Route 4 just before the South Berwick town line, where the speed limit is 55 mph. Her children, Abbie, 4, and Lucas, 7, were in the back seat, secured in a car seat and a booster seat, respectively.

At 8 a.m., a silver Kia in front of Harris swerved to avoid the oncoming sport utility vehicle. Harris had little or no warning of the approaching vehicle. She sustained a head injury and died.

Lucas Harris had surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for a broken vertebra and a torn intestine. He was released from the hospital several days later and was expected to make a full recovery.

Abbie Harris suffered cuts and was released from Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H., on the day of the accident. The teenage driver was sent to the same hospital.

Authorities said early in the investigation that they had not determined why the teenage driver crossed the center line. The accident report says only that he "failed to keep in the proper lane." The boy's name has not been released.

Blood samples were taken from both drivers to test for alcohol and drugs, as required after any serious crash.

Motor vehicle crashes are typically prosecuted by the district attorneys for the counties in which they occur. In this case, however, York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery is related to the teenage driver.

Slattery asked the Attorney General's Office to oversee the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Harris is fondly remembered in her hometown, where she worked at the Vivian E. Hussey School for three years. She graduated from Noble High School in 1997 and from Simmons College in Boston in 2001.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:



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