December 07, 2019
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At least $550,000 paid out in lawsuit over fatal crash on Port Clyde wharf

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
Striping, crosswalks and signs, which have been added or changed in Port Clyde village after a July 2013 crash on the Monhegan-Thomaston boat line wharf killed a young boy and injured three others, can be seen Thursday in Port Clyde.

PORT CLYDE, Maine — Recently released court documents reveal at least $550,000 has been paid out to settle a civil lawsuit filed over a fatal 2013 crash on the Port Clyde wharf.

A judge approved last week a settlement related to the crash that killed a young Massachusetts boy and injured two of his family members.

Justice William Stokes approved a $250,000 settlement for Wyatt Gold of Cohasset, Massachusetts, now 9 years old, who was injured in the Aug. 11, 2013, crash that occurred on the wharf owned by the Monhegan-Thomaston Boat Line. His brother, 9-year-old Dylan Gold died, and his mother, Allison Gold, was seriously injured.

Normally settlements in civil lawsuits are not made public unless it involves a government agency or, in this case, involves a minor. In the cases of minors, a judge must approve any settlement.

Of the $250,000, $55,000 will go to attorney fees, and the remaining $195,000 will be put into an account that he will have access to when he turns 18.

In addition to that payment, the Gold’s insurance company, Commerce Insurance Company, agreed to pay $300,000. The Golds’ attorney Kevin Libby of Portland said that payment is part of the under-insured motorist clause of their policy. That covers someone when the other motorist’s insurance policy has a limit on damages it will cover.

Of that $300,000, $50,000 will go to Wyatt Gold, $100,000 to Allison Gold, $100,000 to Howard Gold in his capacity as the personal representative of his son Dylan Gold’s estate, and $50,000 to the parents.

The amount paid by the insurance company of 64-year-old Cheryl L. Torgerson of New York City, who was the driver of the car that struck the Golds, is not listed in the court paperwork. There also are no records in the court file of what, if any, money was paid out from the ferry line and its owners.

The Gold family filed the lawsuit in August 2015 against Torgerson, the ferry line and James and Judith Barstow of St. George, who own the property where the fatal crash occurred.

The Gold family was on the wharf waiting for the ferry to Monhegan. Torgerson had stopped in a line of vehicles waiting to get on the wharf when her 2007 Infiniti sedan accelerated and struck a building, then hit 70-year-old Jonathan Coggeshall of Port Clyde, before striking the Golds and several vehicles.

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 was released from the hospital a few days after the crash. Coggeshall suffered a serious hip injury.

The Golds’ lawsuit maintained that Torgerson was negligent in driving. The lawsuit also claimed the Monhegan-Thomaston boat line was negligent in failing to erect barriers and gates and failing to safely channel the mix of vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the wharf where the crash occurred.

When the lawsuit settlement initially was reported in June, Allison Gold said it was difficult to find the right words to explain her feelings.

“Although we will forever mourn the loss of our beloved son Dylan, the resolution of the legal process enabled our family to have some sense of closure,” Allison Gold said.

“I want to express my gratitude for the true sense of humanity and shared sorrow that was expressed by all parties, as we have all been touched by this tragedy,” she said.

After the crash and concerns expressed by residents, the town created an ad hoc road safety survey committee. The committee issued a report in January 2014 that called for several actions that could improve safety in Port Clyde village.

St. George Town Manager John Falla said Thursday that all but one of the recommendations for the Port Clyde village where the crash occurred have been implemented. Those steps included extending the striping for the centerline and sideline of the end of Route 131, installing painted crosswalks, and adding signage. There was one crosswalk that was recommended that was not created.

Falla pointed out that the crash occurred on the boat line’s private property and not on public property. Andy Barstow since has taken over ownership of the ferry line from his parents. Efforts to reach James and Judith Barstow were referred to their son, and a message left for him Thursday morning has not been returned.

Torgerson was not criminally charged as a result of the crash. District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said in February 2014 that there was insufficient evidence to show she acted in a criminally negligent manner. A blood test showed Torgerson had no alcohol in her system, and officers saw no signs of illness or that the driver was under the influence of any substances at the time, the district attorney said when he announced no charges would be filed.

A Maine State Police crash reconstructionist examined the sedan and found no mechanical problems.


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