BELFAST, Maine — One year ago, Louise Boudreau-Bouchard of Searsport was an active woman who helped build her dream house in Maine, loved to quilt and was a hands-on mother and grandmother.
But on March 23, 2011, that life changed forever when William Hinkle Jr., 35, of Frankfort pulled out to pass a vehicle on Route 1A and crashed head-on into the blue Subaru sedan that she was driving. Boudreau-Bouchard suffered a traumatic brain injury, a nearly severed right arm, facial lacerations and more in the accident.
On Friday, her husband, Larry Bouchard, was in Waldo County Superior Court to witness Hinkle being sentenced to a five-year prison term with all but 2½ years suspended on the charges that stemmed from the accident. Bouchard received a personal apology from Hinkle before the sentencing hearing and then listened as Hinkle addressed the court.
“I’m sorry for what I’ve brought to the family,” Hinkle said. “I can’t imagine the pain they’re going through. I’m sorry.”
In February, he had pleaded guilty to aggravated driving to endanger and to operating under the influence as well as unlawful trafficking in marijuana and possession of cocaine.
Justice Robert Murray agreed to the plea agreement made between Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker and Hinkle’s defense attorney Peter Baldacci of Bangor.
Under the agreement, Hinkle will spend 2½ years in prison and spend two years on probation. During that time, he will not be allowed to use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs and must submit to random searches and testing for those substances.
He also must pay nearly $20,000 in restitution to Boudreau-Bouchard and her family, as well as other fines and fees.
Walker told the court that Boudreau-Bouchard could not be present at the hearing because of her continuing medical problems. He said that Hinkle showed remorse for his actions minutes after the crash happened.
“He has accepted responsibility in a timely fashion,” Walker said.
Attorney Christiana Mann of Falmouth read a statement on behalf of Boudreau-Bouchard and her family. She told the court that the couple, who previously had lived in Massachusetts, had long dreamed of moving to Maine to retire. About a year before the accident, they finally did so.
But after the accident, the family faced a long, hard recovery that will never be completed, she said.
“They lost the future that they had planned to share together,” Mann said. “Louise easily becomes agitated, anxious and confused. She lives with fear.”
Baldacci said that since the crash, his client has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and has spent the last three months in counseling.
“He’s been cooperative and accepting of responsibility,” the attorney said.
After the hearing, Hinkle was put into handcuffs and remanded into the custody of the Maine Department of Corrections.
Larry Bouchard, who declined to speak with the press, said through Mann that he felt that the sentence was fair.
Baldacci said that while Hinkle’s family will “feel the loss” of a son and husband, they know he will come back home.
“He’s a good person who made some terrible choices,” said Leslie Wilkes, his ex-wife.
Before imposing the sentence, Justice Murray said he hoped that Hinkle has learned a lesson.
“They are clearly life-changing events,” he said of the crash and its aftermath. “I can only hope that it is a life-changing event for you, as well.”