Driver indicted in Trenton crash that killed two immigrant advocates

Posted Dec. 03, 2010, at 9:01 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:31 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hampden man was indicted Thursday on manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of two advocates for undocumented immigrants who died in a two-vehicle collision in Trenton this past spring.

Police have said Jon Dow, 24, was at the wheel of a 2000 Ford pickup truck when it crossed the centerline of Route 3 in the early hours of May 15. In the opposite lane was a 2002 Toyota Corolla carrying Tam Ngoc Tran, 27, and Cinthya Nathalie Felix Perez, 26.

The Ford collided head-on with the Corolla, killing both Tran and Perez.

Dow and the driver of the Toyota, Heather Lee, 28, of Providence, R.I., each were taken by ambulance to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, where they were treated and released, police have said.

Tran and Perez both were children of illegal immigrants and had been known to advocate for undocumented immigrant college students. Both had graduated from University of California, Los Angeles and were pursuing graduate studies at Ivy League schools, Tran at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and Perez at Columbia University in New York City.

Besides being indicted on two counts of manslaughter, Dow was indicted on two counts of aggravated criminal operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants and one count of aggravated assault. The manslaughter charges are Class A felonies, each of which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The other charges are Class B felonies, each of which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

The accident happened on a corner of Route 3 between Kisma Preserve and J&P’s Farm Market. At the time, police said they were investigating whether alcohol or excessive speed may have been factors in the accident.

Tran, who was born in Germany and whose parents are from Vietnam, testified before Congress in 2007 in favor of the proposed DREAM Act, which was aimed at helping undocumented immigrants younger than 18 attain citizenship through college-level educational achievement or through education and military service, according to the Boston Globe. She also founded the Brown Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, according to the Associated Press.

After her testimony, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials raided her family’s home in Garden Grove, Calif., prompting criticism of the agency by U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., according to USA Today.

LA Observed, a news website, has reported that Perez was the first undocumented student admitted to Columbia’s School of Public Health. The Boston Globe reported that Perez moved with her family to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was 15 years old.

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