MACHIAS, Maine — Daniel Dwelley killed his best friend.
A drunken driving wreck on July 10, 2010, on the South Princeton Road in Baileyville killed Andrew Dow, 24, of Princeton, a passenger in a car driven by Dwelley. He was subsequently charged with manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence and aggravated assault. Through a plea bargain agreement, Dwelley was sentenced on Monday to a five-year prison term and will lose his driver’s license for 10 years.
“When I look at and figure the amount of people who loved Andrew, there’s no way I can ever, ever make up for it,” Dwelley, 24, who is from Bangor, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from the Washington County Jail. “I just hope that someday, somebody stops and says, ‘Look at what happened with Dwelley and Andrew,’ and decides not to get in that car. I want somebody else to learn from my mistakes.”
Dwelley said that he had dabbled in OxyContin and marijuana in the past, but on the night of the fatal accident he and Dow were drinking whiskey and beer. When the party they were at in Princeton wound down, Dwelley, Dow and a friend, Michelle Takach, headed down Route 9 to South Princeton, where they went skinny-dipping at midnight. “We were being wild and having a good time at the boat landing, at the four corners in South Princeton,” Dwelley said Tuesday.
The good time soon became a nightmare as the trio headed toward home, he said. “It was a fluke accident. My blood alcohol was .09, but that definitely contributed to what happened. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been drinking.”
Members of Andrew Dow’s family could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but a victim response from the mother of Dow’s son was submitted to the court before Dwelley was sentenced.
“I am angry and hurt by the actions of Mr. Dwelley, who got behind the wheel of a vehicle, with no concern for anyone’s life, started that vehicle, while intoxicated, giving no thought to the consequences,” Megan Donelan wrote on behalf of herself and Liam Patrick Donelan, the child she had with Dow.
Donelan said her son, who had a “loving, caring, ongoing relationship with his daddy,” has lost his father forever.
She said no punishment for Dwelley would ever give back her son the opportunity to really know his dad.
If he was speaking to a gymnasium of high school students about his experience, Dwelley said Tuesday that his core message would be: “It’s never worth it, those 100 times you get away with drunk driving. You get away with it, but you are demolished by that one time that you don’t.”
Correction: An early version of this story requires correction. Daniel Dwelley's blood-alcohol content was .09, not .9.