The license of the driver of the car that severed the legs of a woman in a dry cleaners parking lot last week had been suspended and reinstated multiple times over the last decade because he failed to file necessary medical evaluation forms, according to state officials.
In an interview Wednesday, Robert Carson, 82, said he has a valid license that expires in 2021, and he doesn’t understand why officials say it is suspended. The Secretary of State’s Office says Carson’s license was suspended in November 2016.
Carson, a resident of a senior living facility in Portland, expressed remorse over the accident, saying he is “a mess” because of what happened, adding “I hit her before I could stop.”
Mary “Terri” Anthoine, 60, remains hospitalized at Maine Medical Center, and family members say she will soon be moved to a rehabilitation hospital. Her family is raising money to make her home wheelchair-accessible.
“I feel really badly,” Carson said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. It was an accident. It happened. But I’m still remorseful about it.”
Carson was driving on a suspended license and his SUV, a 2011 Toyota Highlander, was not registered or inspected, according to Portland police. He has been charged with operating after suspension, driving an unregistered motor vehicle and driving a motor vehicle without a valid certificate of inspection.
The Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that Carson’s license was suspended after their office received a medical evaluation request.
That request, which can come from a physician, a concerned relative or a citizen with direct knowledge of an individual’s health, triggers the department to contact the driver to come in for updated road or written driving tests.
The state got its first medical evaluation request for Carson more than a decade ago, in 2006, according to spokeswoman Kristen Muszynski. In the intervening years, he has eventually passed the tests necessary to maintain his license or provided the necessary medical forms, most recently getting a license that was valid through November 2016.
Muszynski said Carson was notified in October 2016 that he needed to take a road/written test to renew his license. After Carson failed to appear for a scheduled road test on Nov. 7, 2016, the Secretary of State’s Office sent him a letter notifying him that his license was suspended, Muszynski said.
Carson said he had just dropped off his shirts for dry cleaning at Pratt Abbott on Forest Avenue and was leaving the parking lot when he “ran up on the curb a little bit.”
“When I pulled off the curb, I struck the accelerator instead of the brake,” he said. “I ran into the rear of her car. I hit her before I could stop.”
He said he was horrified at the extent of Anthoine’s injuries.
Anthoine, who was picking up some dry cleaning, had parked and was walking around the rear of her car when Carson suddenly accelerated and hit her, pinning her between their cars and severing both of her legs immediately, according to Brad Anthoine, the woman’s son. He credited the quick thinking of a passing nurse and a police officer with saving her life by quickly tying tourniquets to her legs. “They don’t claim I was going that fast, but look at the damage I did,” Carson said Wednesday. “It’s awful. I’m a mess.”
Carson, who has lived at the senior living facility for about 18 months, said he doesn’t drive much, only to the dry cleaners and grocery store. He said he has not had other accidents, and that there is no medical reason that may have contributed to what happened at Pratt Abbott.
Carson is the former owner of a pub called “The Office,” which was in the Time and Temperature Building on Congress Street. He is scheduled for a court appearance on Jan. 25.
Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at: