A 76-year-old man who died after being hit by a car that drove into the bleachers at a Portland baseball field on Sunday lived just blocks away, court documents show.

Police reports identify the victim as Celestin Muhizi and list an address in the neighborhood near Deering Oaks. A doctor at Maine Medical Center told the police that Muhizi had multiple injuries and ultimately died early Monday.

The driver, Jonathan Burt of Lisbon, has been charged with manslaughter, operating under the influence of drugs and other crimes. Burt, 29, had an initial court appearance Monday afternoon and is now being held on $50,000 bail at the Cumberland County Jail. His next court date is Jan. 6.

Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck said a victim’s advocate from the police department has been in touch with Muhizi’s family but did not share any other information about him.

The incident happened around 5:20 p.m. Sunday when Burt drove his car into the park and through a set of bleachers behind home plate at the baseball field, then entered a nearby playground area adjacent to the Deering Oaks tennis courts. No children were hurt but some playground equipment was damaged.

According to a witness, Muhizi was sitting on the bleachers behind home plate watching a Maine Lightning baseball game when Burt’s car struck the bleachers.


Mike D’Andrea, program director for the Maine Lightning, said one of his teams was playing a team from New Hampshire that night. He wasn’t at the game, but said the experience was traumatic for those who were. The team – mostly 14-year-old boys, he said – was going to meet with the coach Tuesday evening to talk about what happened.

“You can’t really prepare for that,” he said. “What we have to do now as an organization is support our team, our parents.”

D’Andrea said he did not know Muhizi.

“He was not connected to either team,” D’Andrea said. “He was just a local gentleman who was there enjoying a baseball game.”

Police wrote in their reports that both Burt and his passenger were unconscious when officers approached them and showed symptoms of a drug overdose. First responders administered Narcan to both of them at the scene and revived them.

Burt was not identified publicly by police until Monday afternoon. He was arrested after the crash, while his passenger was released.

Anne Pringle, president of the Friends of Deering Oaks Park, said she also did not know Muhizi. When she walked through the park and saw the damaged equipment, she said she felt grateful that more people were not injured or killed.

“What a shame that you’re just down there enjoying a baseball game, and your life is cut short,” she said.

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