Knox County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau will travel to St. George on Thursday to explain to town residents the reasons for his decision not to criminally prosecute Cheryl Torgerson, the 61-year-old New York City woman whose vehicle accelerated through a congested boat landing in Port Clyde last August, killing a 9-year-old Massachusetts boy and injuring three other bystanders.

Rushlau said he asked for an informational meeting out of concern that some residents in the Knox County fishing community still don’t understand his decision and are having difficulty coping with the tragedy.

“It was an absolutely horrible thing. It is rare that a car crash like this has so much of an impact on a community,” Rushlau said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “But here (in St. George) it was like having a bomb explode.”

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office this week issued a press release inviting residents to attend the meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in the St. George Town Office. Port Clyde is a village within the town of St. George. Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison, Chief Deputy Tim Carroll and Sgt. John Palmer, the lead investigator for the sheriff’s office, will join Rushlau at the meeting.

Rushlau last month explained his decision in a four-page report, but he said Tuesday not everyone has read the report and that doubts in the community linger.

According to Rushlau’s report and information provided by Maine State Police investigators, Torgerson on Aug. 11, 2013, drove from her home in New York City to Port Clyde in her 2007 Infiniti sedan.


Torgerson was trying to make the 3 p.m. ferry to Monhegan Island, arriving at the Monhegan Boat Lines terminal around 2:30 p.m., Rushlau said.

She came to a stop behind another vehicle — a Honda Pilot whose driver was talking to a parking attendant — and remained in her car. She stopped on a sloped area.

Rushlau said Torgerson’s Infiniti moved forward, struck the Pilot and spun it around. Her vehicle suddenly accelerated, striking and injuring 68-year-old Jonathan Coggeshall of Port Clyde.

Her car then slammed into the ferry terminal building, causing her airbag to deploy.

After that the Infiniti struck six vehicles that were parked on the wharf, seriously injuring Allison Gold, her son Wyatt Gold, 6, and killing another son, Dylan Gold, all of Cohasset, Mass. Allison Gold was pinned against a parked car, while her sons were thrown into the air. Dylan landed on the ground and was run over.

According to Rushlau’s statement, Torgerson told Palmer that her accelerator pedal “jammed” and that she could not remember if she applied her brakes. There was no sign of alcohol in her blood and she did not appear to be sick or under the influence of any substances.


Police have said that an Infiniti with a similar description to Torgerson’s was seen speeding through Waldoboro less than an hour before the Port Clyde crash. Waldoboro police confirmed that they received reports of a driver speeding and passing cars on the right of Route 1. The car had a gold license plate. Many New York state license plates are orange or gold.

Rushlau said there is no way to prove that the Infiniti spotted in Waldoboro belonged to Torgerson, “but even if you could connect it to her, there is no way we could say it had an impact on what happened on the dock that day.”

Operation of a vehicle that causes a death can be prosecuted as the crime of manslaughter or aggravated driving to endanger. Rushlau concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove that Torgerson acted with criminal negligence, but if new evidence emerges the case could be reviewed again.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:[email protected]

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