OXFORD — Maine State Police have charged an Oxford teenager with manslaughter in a car crash that killed two other teens earlier this year in West Paris.
Kristina I. Lowe, 19, was arrested without incident by Trooper Thomas Welch at her home Tuesday, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Stephen McCausland said in a news release.
Lowe is charged with two counts of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of aggravated driving to endanger, and one count of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in death. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 95 years in jail and fines of more than $100,000.
Lowe was taken to the Oxford County Jail in South Paris, where she was being held on $25,000 bail. She is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in 8th District Court in Lewiston.
She was driving on Route 219 on Jan. 7 when she lost control of her car, reportedly while texting. Rebecca Mason, 16, of West Paris and Logan Dam, 19, of Norway were killed in the one-car crash.
Jerrold Mason, Rebecca Mason's father, said the charges were “kind of a bittersweet victory.” Mason said he hopes the District Attorney's office doesn't go easy on Lowe. “Hopefully, they don't try to plea bargain this thing down,” he said Tuesday. “It's been incredibly tough on my wife and I.”
The Masons didn't realize their daughter Rebecca had left the house until police came to their door and told them she had been killed in a crash.
“I had no idea my daughter had snuck out,” her father said.
“It's a day-to-day struggle even to keep on going on with life," he said. "After something like this happens, what's life all about?”
Since the crash, Mason has been involved with local groups dedicated to distracted-driving awareness. Earlier this month, he testified before the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Transportation in favor of a bill aimed at protecting young drivers. Gov. Paul LePage signed the bill last week.
Mason said he travels across the state for business and is recognized as Rebecca's father as far away as Fort Kent. Locally, more than 1,000 people came to the visiting hours before her funeral. “She was a very well-liked person, and I just miss her to death," he said.
The investigation by troopers has determined Lowe was reading and/or sending a text message on her mobile phone at the time of the crash. She had also been drinking that night and was speeding, police said.
Lowe was operating a 2002 Subaru that left the road and vaulted into a stand of trees. According to police, passengers Mason and Dam were killed instantly.
A third passenger, Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris suffered minor injuries. Lowe was seriously injured.
Both Lowe and Skaff left the crash site when first responders arrived; they were later found elsewhere.
Investigators say the four were returning to an underage drinking party in West Paris.