South Thomaston teen arrested for manslaughter

By Stephen Betts | Jan 10, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Kelsey Campbell makes her initial appearance Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 10, in Knox County Unified Court on a manslaughter charge. She is represented by attorney Laura Shaw.

South Thomaston — A 19-year-old South Thomaston woman was arrested Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 9, and charged with manslaughter in connection with a car crash last year that killed a young man.

Kelsey R. Campbell was charged with manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence and operating beyond license condition or restriction.

Campbell was arrested on a warrant obtained by the Knox County Sheriff's Office. An affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court by Detective Justin Twitchell detailed the evidence leading to the charges.

Killed in the crash was 21-year-old Zachary Elwell of St. George.

The affidavit states 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 rate of speed on the evening of May 25, 2017. One of the motorists estimated that the vehicle was traveling 85 miles per hour in the 50-mile-per-hour zone.

That motorist said 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 a high rate of 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.

In another affidavit filed last year to obtain a search warrant for the vehicle, Knox County Deputy Paul Pinkham reported 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.

Campbell was taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland. Judge Susan Sparaco set bail at $2,500 cash. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald had requested bail be set at $25,000 cash or $250,000 in property. Defense attorney Laura Shaw asked for the lower bail, pointing out that her client had no criminal record and had been out in the community in the eight months since the crash with no problems.

Sparaco agreed to a request from the prosecution that Campbell have no contact with Elwell's parents, Jurkowski, or the two witnesses. She will also be required to enter into an agreement with Maine Pre-Trial Services and be prohibited from using alcohol or illegal drugs. The judge said she would be allowed to use marijuana, because she has a medical marijuana card.

Campbell works as a sternwoman on a fishing boat and takes classes at the University of Maine in Rockland.

After the bail hearing, Shaw said Campbell maintains her innocence.

Campbell entered no plea because two of the charges are felonies and the case has yet to be presented to a grand jury.

The maximum potential sentence for manslaughter is 30 years in prison.

Campbell is also represented by attorney Christopher MacLean of Camden.

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