Driver in fatal Port Clyde crash will not be charged with any crime

From left, vehicle operator Cheryl Torgerson, Knox County Sheriff's Sgt. John Palmer and Lt. Kirk Guerette look over the car that Torgerson was driving after she allegedly lost control, striking several cars and a family, killing a 9-year-old boy on Aug. 11 at the Monhegan Boat Landing in Port Clyde.
RON HAWKES | Ron Hawkes Photography
From left, vehicle operator Cheryl Torgerson, Knox County Sheriff's Sgt. John Palmer and Lt. Kirk Guerette look over the car that Torgerson was driving after she allegedly lost control, striking several cars and a family, killing a 9-year-old boy on Aug. 11 at the Monhegan Boat Landing in Port Clyde.
Posted Feb. 02, 2014, at 5:12 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 03, 2014, at 10:41 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The driver of a car that plowed into people waiting for a ferry to Monhegan nearly six months ago — killing a young boy and injuring three others — will not be charged with any crime.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said Friday he would be issuing a statement later this week concerning the case but would not comment on it until that time.

But Allison Gold, the mother of 9-year-old Dylan Gold of Cohasset, Mass., who was killed in that Aug. 11 crash, said Saturday that the family was informed by the district attorney that there was not sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge.

Gold and her husband Howard Gold and 6-year-old son Wyatt met Friday with Rushlau at his office at the Knox County Courthouse.

Gold said Saturday in an email statement the family needed time to process the news from the prosecutor. She said they understand why he made the decision not to prosecute.

Attorney Eric “Rick” Morse, who represents Cheryl Torgerson, the 61-year-old driver who struck the people at the ferry landing in Port Clyde, said Sunday that his client does not wish to comment. Morse said he was aware of the district attorney’s decision not to prosecute.

Torgerson was driving her 2007 Infiniti G35 to catch the Monhegan ferry shortly after 2:30 p.m. that day, when witnesses reported to police that her car came speeding down the hill leading to the center of the village and the wharf.

When Torgerson’s vehicle accelerated at the wharf, it struck one car and then pedestrian Jonathan Coggeshall of Port Clyde. The car continued on, crashing into a building and careening along the wharf, striking six more vehicles and hitting the Gold family members, who were on vacation and waiting to get on the ferry.

Dylan Gold died from his injuries before he could be taken by a LifeFlight helicopter to a hospital. Allison Gold suffered serious injuries, while Wyatt Gold was also struck and injured.

Torgerson, who was not injured, told officers on the day of the accident that she could not recall what had happened. An investigation into the crash failed to find any problems with the vehicle.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office reported that it interviewed 15 to 20 witnesses, some more than once. The vehicle was examined by police and information from the event data recorder was downloaded by investigators.

That recorder can determine the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash and whether the air bag deployed.

Police turned over their investigative files to the district attorney’s office in late September, and Torgerson’s vehicle was returned to her after it was inspected.

Police acknowledged they received a complaint about a car, very similar to the one driven by Torgerson, speeding and driving recklessly in Waldoboro less than an hour before it plowed into the people on the Port Clyde wharf.

The Lincoln County communications center received a call at 1:47 p.m. that day about a black Infiniti with gold-colored license plates numbered GVC7762 driving recklessly, passing cars on the right and speeding north on Route 1 in Waldoboro, 2 miles north of the Nobleboro town line.

Torgerson’s car was a dark blue Infiniti with gold New York license plates, GBC7262.

Torgerson hired Morse of Rockland shortly after the crash. She spoke to officers immediately after the crash since then police said questions for her are being referred to her attorney at her request.

The Gold family had been waiting to board the ferry to Monhegan for their annual two-week vacation to that island. Allison Gold and her husband, Howard, a physician, have vacationed on Monhegan each summer for more than 10 years.

Howard Gold was still in the family’s van and witnessed the crash.

Allison Gold said in an interview in November with the BDN that she never saw Torgerson’s vehicle before the crash but heard the engine roaring and the cars banging. She recalls turning to her children and telling them to run, saw Dylan struck and then she was struck.

Allison Gold suffered multiple pelvic fractures, a perforated bladder and considerable internal bleeding. She spent two weeks at Maine Medical Center in Portland and another two weeks at a rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts.

Wyatt Gold spent a few days in the hospital.

Coggeshall spent several days at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport.

The Golds said they received a letter from Torgerson four days after the crash. Howard Gold said in that November interview that what struck him and his wife about the letter — which he said contained a lot of “I’m sorry” statements — was that it was postmarked from Maine where she had continued on with her vacation to Monhegan.

A telephone message was left Sunday afternoon with Coggeshall who also met Friday with Rushlau. The call was not immediately returned.

According to an affidavit filed in court by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to obtain a search warrant to download information from the event data recorder in Torgerson’s vehicle, Torgerson said her car started to accelerate as she came down the incline toward the ferry wharf. Torgerson told investigators that the accelerator went down on its own and was stuck to the floor, according to the affidavit.

Morse filed a motion in Knox County Superior Court on Sept. 12 requesting that state police return all data received from her vehicle’s electronic recorder. The motion claims that police didn’t have sufficient evidence to obtain the search warrant that allowed them to download the information from Torgerson’s vehicle.

Two weeks ago, the St. George Board of Selectmen agreed to make some improvements near the crash site but committee members said they doubted any of the changes would have prevented the crash. The recommendations include new signs, striping to mark the road and striping for pedestrian crosswalks.

Mainers from across the state gathered in October for a “Rock the Dock” fundraiser on the Monhegan Boat Line wharf to remember Dylan and raise money for the emergency workers who came to the aid of the family.

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