Driver in fatal crash faces charges, civil suit

Posted July 26, 2011, at 11:26 a.m.

HARRISON, Maine — The family of a teen killed in a single-car accident in October 2010 has filed a civil wrongful death suit against the driver and the car’s owner.

The driver was 17 at the time of the crash and police have not released her name, but according to the crash report and the civil suit, the driver was Morgan L. Kesseli of River Street in Paris.

Last week, Kesseli was charged with manslaughter, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated driving to endanger. Thomas McLendon, 19, of Oxford was killed in the crash.

The owner of the car, Lisa Palmer of Paris, is also named as a defendant in the civil suit. The plaintiffs, Pamela and James McLendon, are represented by Alan J. Perry of the Kurtz & Perry law firm in Paris.

According to the accident report, at 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 21, Kesseli was driving north on Waterford Road in Harrison when she lost control of a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer owned by Lisa Palmer. She crossed the southbound lane and struck trees, the report said.

McLendon, who was a passenger, was fatally injured in the crash. Passengers Jacob Hill, who was 20 at the time, and Timothy Coffin, who was 21, were also hurt.

After an investigation, members of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Windham Police Department concluded excessive speed was the primary factor in the accident.

The civil suit accuses of Kesseli and Palmer of negligence, and that as a result Thomas McLendon “sustained personal injury, suffered mental and physical pain, loss of income, impairment of his earning capacity, impairment of the enjoyment of his life and died.”

The suit seeks damages for wrongful death, for suffering incurred by Thomas McLendon and for attorneys’ fees and other costs. No trial date has been set, according to court documents.

According to a release from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Kesseli is out on a juvenile conditional release and is scheduled to appear in Bridgton District Court at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 22.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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