Relatives of women killed in Sept. 1 crash sue Canadian driver

Posted Dec. 07, 2011, at 9:57 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 07, 2011, at 5:12 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Relatives of the two women who were killed Sept. 1 in a car accident in Eddington have filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against a Canadian man.

Brenda Sampson, 32, of Bangor sued Hugh Fraser, 44, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Melinda L. Salisbury, 42, of Otis sued Fraser on Nov. 1 in Penobscot County Superior Court. Three weeks later, Fraser’s attorney, Brian Voke of Boston, had the case moved to federal court in Bangor.

Sampson’s sister Judi Lynn Sampson, 30, and Salisbury’s mother, Ruth Rennebu, 63, both of Clifton, were killed when Fraser allegedly fell asleep at the wheel and crashed head-on into a minivan driven by Rennebu. Clifton resident Milton Rennebu, 30, who was Sampson’s fiance and Ruth Rennebu’s son, was injured in the crash.

Brenda Sampson and Salisbury filed the lawsuits as the personal representative of their relatives. Both are seeking unspecified damages for their relatives’ estates, including medical expenses, funeral expenses and the loss of comfort, society and companionship.

Judi Lynn Sampson left behind three children. Brenda Sampson was described in her obituary as a sister and “best friend.” Rennebu’s obituary said that “to all her children’s and grandchildren’s friends, Ruth was known as ‘Gram.’”

Although the complaints named Fraser, the lawsuits most likely will be dealt with by attorneys for his insurance company.

Salisbury’s attorney, N. Laurence Willey of Bangor, said that until recently, he had difficulty getting in touch with Fraser’s attorney and insurance company.

“It is unfortunate that this Canadian driver believes he can wreak havoc on Maine roads and ignore numerous attempts to communicate,” Willey said last month before the lawsuit was moved to federal court.

Fraser and his three sons, ages 5, 10 and 13, also were injured in the accident. The 10-year-old was listed in critical condition at Eastern Maine Medical Center a week after the crash, according to a previously published report. The nature of Fraser’s and his sons’ injuries was not released.

Fraser served as press secretary to former Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm between November 2004 and March 2006 and now runs his own communications firm, according to a previously published report.

His wife, Amy Pugsley Fraser, flew to Maine to be with her family when she learned of the accident, according to The Chronicle Herald in Halifax, where both have worked in the past.

“Both are well-known in Halifax media and political circles,” the paper’s online story about the fatal accident stated. “Pugsley Fraser now covers municipal politics for allnovascotia.com after working the same beat at this newspaper until 2009. Fraser is the president of Fraser and Sons Communications Inc.” and has worked as a producer at CBC Radio and CBC Newsworld.

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