February 8, 2013

Waterville woman strikes plea deal for causing six-car crash on College Avenue

'Psychotic breakdown' made Nancy M. Hazard, 46, slam into stopped cars; deal would allow Hazard to plea to lesser crime in 12 months

AUGUSTA — A Waterville woman suffered a psychotic breakdown when she caused a six-vehicle crash last March on College Avenue in Waterville that left six people injured, three of them seriously, according to the woman’s attorney. 

click image to enlarge

Nancy Hazard's car lies demolished and overturned on March 18, after it plowed into five vehicles parked at a traffic light in Waterville, sending six peole to the hospital.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

The disclosure came as Nancy M. Hazard, 46, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated driving to endanger in connection with the crash. 

Under the conditions of the plea deal, if Hazard has no other criminal problems in the next 12 months, she can return to Kennebec County Superior Court to withdraw the original guilty plea and instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving to endanger. The arrangement calls for her to be sentenced to three days in jail along with a 30-day license suspension.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the prosecutor’s office made an offer to Hazard in December and it was accepted Thursday. 

“This is just an unfortunate and heart-rending accident,” Hazard’s attorney, Luann Calcagni, said Friday. “It was essentially the result of an unforeseen psychotic episode resulting from a mental illness she had been under treatment for. At the time of the accident, she was fully compliant with the treatment recommendation in place at the that time.”

Calcagni said Hazard agreed to plead guilty because she did not want to put family or victims through a trial. 

“Nancy did nothing wrong. It’s not a case that should ever have been prosecuted,” Calcagni said.

Hazard spent a month in the hospital following the crash and continues to require treatment for her injuries.

Calcagni said Hazard immediately surrendered her license and has no intention of ever driving again. “She’s heartbroken about this,” Calcagni said.

Two other people injured in the March 18 crash spent at least 10 days hospitalized. Maloney said those victims agreed to the plea deal.

“Both the victims ... came in to the office, and they just really wanted to have the case over,” Maloney said. 

Hazard was driving a 2008 Suzuki SX4 south on College Avenue when she struck four cars waiting at a stoplight. A fifth car was pushed into the intersection.

In May, the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office submitted a 34-page crash reconstruction report that concluded Hazard was driving 60 to 85 mph at the time of impact, according to Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey of the Waterville Police Department. 

 During the investigation, Hazard told police she had no memory of the crash or events leading up to it. 

Investigators also ruled out the possibility that Hazard was intoxicated. Blood sample taken from Hazard shortly after the crash tested negative for alcohol or illegal drugs, and any prescription medications were at normal levels, authorities have said. 

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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