Driver in fatal crash in Topsham had suspended license

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BRUNSWICK (AP) – A 51-year-old Bath man charged in connection with a fatal accident in Topsham was driving on a suspended license and has a lengthy record of driving offenses, according to police and state officials.

John P. Allen was charged Thursday with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and operating after suspension in connection with Wednesday’s crash on Interstate 295 that killed Harold Weisbein Jr., 44, of Topsham.

Allen’s car crashed into the back of Weisbein’s sport utility vehicle, causing it to roll over and land on its roof in the highway median, said Public Safety Department spokesman Steven McCausland. Weisbein, a professor at Southern Maine Community College, was killed instantly, McCausland said.

Allen’s license has been suspended six times, most recently on May 8 because of an adverse medical condition, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Deputy Secretary of State Doug Dunbar said Allen has been convicted of speeding 10 times, and had other convictions for running a red light, possessing more than one driver’s license and violating the seat belt law. He has been involved in seven motor vehicle accidents.

Rushlau said Tina’s Law, which was passed by the Legislature this year, won’t take effect until August. That law, passed in response to an accident last year that killed Tina Turcotte, carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 for causing the death of another person while knowingly driving on a suspended license.

Scott Hewitt of Caribou, the driver of the truck that rear-ended and crushed Turcotte’s car on Interstate 95 in Hallowell, had a record of 63 motor vehicle convictions and 23 license suspensions. He faces manslaughter and other charges.

The cause of the crash that killed Weisbein is still under investigation. Allen is free on $5,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned June 29. Sagadahoc County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said he faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

“It’s going to take a lot more work,” McCausland said. “There is no initial cause, other than the obvious one: That he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel to begin with.”

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