An elderly Gray couple injured in December 2018 when a man being pursued by Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies struck their car has sued county officials alleging the department was negligent for the crash.
Elmer Young, 92, and his wife, Barbara Young, 85, are seeking unspecified damages for ongoing medical expenses due to injuries sustained following the high-speed chase on Route 302 in Windham.
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The lawsuit was filed last month in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.
The incident that led to the chase began on Dec. 16, 2018, after police received reports of a domestic dispute between Dale Tucker, now 31 of Casco and a woman with whom he has a child, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said. Tucker had threatened to go to a residence in Windham and cause harm, according to the sheriff’s office.
A Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy later spotted Tucker’s 2007 Chevy Cobalt at the intersection of Roosevelt Trail and Route 35 in Windham and pulled him over. After he initially pulled over, Tucker sped away and the deputy chased him.
The Youngs were traveling west on Route 302 when deputies told them to pull over to the right side of the road and park near other vehicles, the complaint said. The deputies then put down a spike mat to stop Tucker.
Tucker swerved to avoid the spike mat and struck the Youngs’ car.
Warning: This video contains adult language and may not be suitable for all.
Just trying to go to this store and than this happens pic.twitter.com/5aymAQEvhl
— Tyler Bisson (@BissonTyler) December 16, 2018
Both of the Youngs suffered spinal and rib fractures along with lacerations. They were hospitalized for two weeks and required months of rehabilitation, according to their attorney, Steven Silin of Lewiston.
“The last year and a half has been very difficult for the Youngs, both of whom continue to live with the impacts of their injuries,” he said. “Sadly, this tragic accident and the serious injuries suffered by Mr. and Mrs. Young were foreseeable consequences of the poor decision-making by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, authorizing and then undertaking a police chase through the busy streets of Windham.
“Instead of protecting the public safety, the officers involved put the public at unnecessary risk,” he said. “It should never have happened. More than anything else, the Youngs want to make sure that this does not happen to anyone else.”
Cumberland County officials did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday or Thursday.
Tucker was sentenced in January to eight years in prison with all but 3.5 years suspended after pleading guilty the previous May to aggravated eluding an officer, a Class B crime, and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a Class C crime, according to the Cumberland County district attorney’s office.
He is incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, according to the Maine Department of Corrections. Tucker’s earliest release date is Oct. 10, 2022, when he will be on probation for three years. The time Tucker spent at the Cumberland County Jail unable to post $25,000 cash bail has been credited toward his sentence.