Hope woman pleads guilty in crash that killed Woolwich couple

By Stephen Betts | Mar 06, 2019
Danielle Ward

West Bath — A 35-year-old Hope woman could serve up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday, March 6, to a string of charges related to a head-on car crash that claimed the lives of a Woolwich couple.

Danielle Ward pleaded guilty in the Sagadahoc County court in West Bath to two counts of manslaughter, and one count each of operating under the influence, felony driving to endanger and endangering the welfare of a child, according to prosecutor Jeffrey Baroody.

Sentencing is expected to be held in May. Baroody said the only agreement with the defense is that the portion of the prison sentence to be served by Ward would not be more than 10 years.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years in prison.

The plea comes after Justice Daniel Billings ruled against the defense in its attempt to suppress the results of a blood sample taken from Ward on the night of the fatal crash. The test showed drugs in her system.

The crash occurred Jan. 21, 2017, on Route 1 just north of the Taste of Maine Restaurant.

The crash claimed the lives of 70-year-old Robert S. Martin and his 76-year-old wife, Carolyn W. Martin, both of Woolwich. Robert Martin died at the scene and Carolyn Martin died en route to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston via a LifeFlight helicopter.

Robert Martin was driving a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe sports utility vehicle south on Route 1 when the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Ward, which was also carrying six children as passengers, veered into the oncoming lane, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Office reported immediately after the crash. The children ranged in age from 5 to 12 years old. Two of the children in the vehicle were Ward's.

All seven people in Ward's vehicle were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. A 5-year-old suffered a broken back, an 11-year-old had internal bleeding, a 12-year-old complained of abdominal pain, a 10-year-old had head trauma, a 7-year-old had an abdominal injury, and a 9-year-old had a fractured knee, according to an affidavit filed in court by the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Office.

A deputy's inspection of the scene of the crash found no tire marks from Ward's vehicle prior to the crash. He could not determine if there were tire marks from the Martins' vehicle, because fluids from the vehicles covered that section of the road.

A paramedic told police Ward had mentioned to him that she might have hit black ice prior to the crash. There was no evidence of black ice in the area at the time of the crash, and the temperature was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the affidavit. The crash occurred shortly after 6 p.m

The deputy also listed Ward's driving record in the police affidavit, pointing out that she had 13 convictions and six crashes in the past 11 years. Those convictions included two for operating under the influence — in 2013 and 2008, according to the affidavit. The most recent crash was Aug. 24, 2016, in Thomaston, in which there were no injuries, according to the affidavit.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Cheryl McMahon | Mar 06, 2019 18:41

Hopefully the families of the deceased and the children that were injured will now get some kind of closure.

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