A Superior Court judge on Thursday sent a former Cutler man convicted of manslaughter and aggravated drunken driving in connection with the 2014 death of a Millinocket teacher in a car crash back to prison.
Scott Ramsdell, 49, of Bangor, was ordered to serve another 15 months behind bars for violating his probation by using drugs.
Formerly of Cutler, Ramsdell originally was sentenced in August 2015 to 10 years in prison with all but 27 months suspended and four years of probation. His driver’s license was suspended for six years.
Ramsdell admitted in January to violating his probation after being free for about two years. He reported the drug use to his probation officer and was arrested.
Ramsdell admitted in 2015 that he was under the influence of methadone and other drugs when he caused the Jan. 27, 2014 crash that killed Denise Golding, 47, of Eddington. Ramsdell was driving east when his car crossed the centerline of Route 9 at about 6 a.m. that day and struck Golding’s car. She died in the ambulance en route to Bangor to what was then called Eastern Maine Medical Center.
At Ramsdell’s sentencing four years ago and again on Thursday, Golding’s parents, Donna and Kevin Oliver of Eddington, urged lawmakers to require people receiving methadone to have a designated driver with them when they receive treatment. Lynch said Friday that she admired the couple’s courage to speak out about the problem of drugged driving.
“Their daughter’s death was a collateral consequence of the opioid crisis hitting Maine,” Penobscot County District Attorney Marianne Lynch said Friday. “She died as a result of someone else’s addiction. Daily, this wonderful family endures the loss of their daughter, mother, grandmother, and the community was robbed of a dedicated teacher and volunteer.
“The criminal justice system does not bring closure to the grief they are sentenced to live with every day,” she said. “The Olivers’ message is heartfelt and without malice when they implore others to think before they get behind the wheel of a car when they have used intoxicants.”
Ramsdell had been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since his January arrest and plea awaiting a probation revocation hearing. That hearing was continued multiple times while Ramsdell’s attorney, David Bate of Bangor, worked with Ramsdell’s probation officer to find a suitable and secure in-patient treatment program but Lynch refused support it, Bate said Friday.
Bate said Friday that a bed was found but was only available for 24 hours and the criminal justice system was unable to release Ramsell for treatment that quickly.
“I will always favor an effort to fix, especially for a person on probation, rather punish an addict’s statistically predictable use of drugs,” the defense attorney said. “Mr. Ramsdell has two years clean. One dirty test should not warrant the 18-month sentence sought by the state. Seven months, Mr. Ramsdell’s time in jail to date on this single use of drugs, with continued counseling was more than sufficient to correct this behavior.”
The time Ramsdell has been held at the jail will be applied to his sentence, according to Lynch. His probation will continue after that for another two years.
“The state was not in agreement due to the public safety threat Mr. Ramsdell poses when he takes drugs,” Lynch said. “There are substance abuse services Mr. Ramsdell may avail himself of again while in prison.”
At the time of the fatal collision, Ramsdell was traveling from Bangor, where he had received his methadone dose at a local clinic, to District Court in Machias, where he was to appear on a domestic violence assault charge.
A single mother of four grown children, Golding taught English as a second language to Chinese students at Stearns Junior/Senior High School. She had bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maine.
Golding was on her way to meet a colleague with whom she carpooled to Millinocket, according to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.
Ramsdell is not the only driver receiving methadone to be involved in a fatal accident in Penobscot County that led to a manslaughter charge and who has had his probation revoked.
Marc Sparks, 34, of Bucksport was sent back to the Maine State Prison in Warren for two years on March 6 after a hearing at the Hancock County Courthouse for violating his probation by using drugs. Once he is released again, his probation will continue, according to the Hancock County district attorney’s office.
Sparks was sentenced in September 2015 to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended after pleading no contest to charges that he was under the influence of methadone when he crashed his car into a vehicle driven by a Brewer woman, who died six days later as a result of the collision.
Sparks, who is incarcerated at the Maine State Prison in Warren, was driving south Sept. 13, 2014, on Route 15 in Orrington when his Dodge sedan failed to slow down and struck an SUV driven by Robin Rie, 59, of Brewer.
Rie had slowed to make a left turn into a vegetable stand in the area of 420 River Road. The impact forced Rie’s vehicle off the road and into a residence before it came to rest, according to the Penobscot County sheriff’s office.
Sparks’ earliest release date is Sept. 28, 2020, according to the Maine Department of Corrections inmate locator.
Penobscot County District Attorney Marianne Lynch said last fall during her campaign to replace long-time prosecutor R. Christopher Almy, who did not seek re-election, that prosecuting impaired drivers was a priority for her.