ROCKLAND — A 21-year-old South Thomaston woman was sentenced Friday to a year in jail for a crash two years ago that claimed the life of one of her passengers.

Kelsey R. Campbell was sentenced in Knox County Superior Court for aggravated criminal operating under the influence, and operating beyond license condition or restriction. A more serious charge of manslaughter was dismissed last year as part of a sentence agreement.

Killed in the May 25, 2017, crash on Route 131 in South Thomaston was 21-year-old Zachary Elwell of St. George.

Campbell had pleaded no contest in April 2018.

Last year, Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee accepted the agreement worked out between the District Attorney’s Office and the defense in which Campbell was sentenced to seven years in prison with all but one year suspended. She will also be on probation for three years after her release.

She was fined $2,100 and has had her driver’s license suspended for 10 years.


Campbell will report to jail on April 12.

Campbell’s defense had asked for the incarceration time to be reduced to nine months so that she could serve her time at the local jail, but that request was withdrawn before Friday’s hearing, facing strong opposition from Elwell’s family.

A no contest plea results in a conviction, the same as if a guilty plea had been entered. No contest allows the defendant to contest claims filed in any lawsuit.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years in prison.

At the April 2018 hearing, family members and a friend of Elwell’s offered emotional testimony about the impact of the young man’s death.

His father, Randy Elwell, spoke to the judge last year while the family’s attorney, Alison Wholey Briggs, held a framed color photograph of the young man.


He pointed out that his son was a firefighter and the two of them attended a firefighting academy about a year before his death.

Friday’s hearing was brief since the sentence had already been agreed to by both sides. Campbell’s family was in attendance, as was Elwell’s, along with their attorney Alison Wholey Briggs.

An affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court after the crash by Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Justin Twitchell stated that Campbell had a blood alcohol level of 0.21 – more than twice the limit at which a person is considered under the influence in Maine.

In addition, two witnesses reported that a 2004 Subaru Outback passed them on Route 131 in South Thomaston at a high speed. One of the motorists estimated that the vehicle was traveling at 85 mph in the 50-mph zone.

That motorist said that after the vehicle passed him, he saw smoke and came upon the crash.

Another motorist said she saw a woman driving the car, laughing as the vehicle passed at high speed.


Police said the vehicle went off the road, struck a rock wall and several trees and landed on its roof. Elwell was thrown from the vehicle and died of head trauma.

Campbell told officers that Elwell had jumped from the rear passenger seat to the front passenger seat, but she did not recall if he hit the steering wheel or distracted her just before the crash, according to the affidavit.

In another affidavit filed last year to obtain a search warrant for the vehicle, Knox County Deputy Paul Pinkham reported that he smelled an odor of intoxicating liquor on Campbell’s breath when he talked with her after the crash.

Campbell admitted to Pinkham that she had consumed three shots of a vodka-cranberry juice mix that she had made, according to the affidavit.

“Campbell had made the comment to him regarding she has driven a lot drunker than this and never had a problem,” the affidavit stated.

Campbell and another passenger, Austin Jurkowski, 19, of St. George, were taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport with minor injuries.

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