DOVER-FOXCROFT (AP) – A 23-year-old man from Abbot was handed a 3-year prison term Thursday for causing the deaths of two friends in a spectacular 2004 car crash in Sebec.

Heath St. Louis was sentenced in Piscataquis County Superior Court on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Elias Russell, 22, of Parkman and Drake Martell, 21, of Sangerville.

Justice Andrew Mead sentenced St. Louis to 10 years, with all but 3 years suspended, to be followed by six years of probation. He also must pay restitution and undergo counseling.

At issue during the February trial was whether St. Louis was behind the wheel when Russell’s car struck an object on the North Road, went airborne, sliced off treetops, catapulted and landed pointing in the opposite direction.

Testimony indicated that the vehicle was traveling at more than 85 mph and all three occupants had been drinking prior to the crash.

St. Louis claimed to be in the back seat, but Russell and Martell were found in passenger seats with their seat belts on. St. Louis suffered abrasions and was outside the vehicle when police arrived.

He was allowed to remain free pending appeals of his conviction and sentence.

AP-ES-05-31-07 1401EDT

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