Police say probable cause that Rockport driver in fatal crash was criminally negligent

By Stephen Betts | Feb 05, 2017

West Bath — The officer leading the investigation into a Jan. 21 head-on crash on Route 1 in Woolwich that claimed the lives of a couple from that town said there is probable cause to believe that a Rockport woman who veered into the oncoming lane was operating in a criminally negligent manner.

The allegation is contained in an affidavit filed by the officer in Maine District Court in West Bath to obtain search warrants for both the medical records of 33-year-old Danielle R. Ward and to inspect the sports utility vehicle she was driving.

Ward has not been charged with any crime as a result of the crash that occurred just north of the Taste of Maine restaurant.

Brett Strout, the chief deputy of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Department, said last week that the investigation continues and when it concludes the information will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for a determination of whether charges are warranted.

Maine District Court Judge Beth Dobson approved issuance of the search warrants Jan. 26, based on the affidavit filed by Deputy Brian Carlton. The affidavit had been reviewed by the District Attorney's Office prior to being presented to the judge.

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 while 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 and carrying six children as passengers, veered into the oncoming lane. The children ranged in ages fro 5 to 12 years old, according to the affidavit.

All seven people in Ward's vehicle were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. The 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 the affidavit.

Ward had abdominal pain.

The 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 Martin's vehicle because fluids from the vehicles covered that section of the road.

A paramedic told police that Ward had mentioned to him that she may have hit black ice prior to the crash.

But Carlton said 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 interviewed the 12-year-old passenger in Ward's vehicle on the day after the crash, and she said a video was playing in the DVD system in the vehicle.

The deputy also listed Ward's driving record in the 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 in Thomaston, in which there were no injuries, according to the affidavit.

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