Eric Campbell, left, listens to the judge during Campbell’s initial appearance at 8th District Court in Lewiston on Friday. He is charged with driving to endanger and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or death. At right is attorney Ed Rabasco. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

LEWISTON — A Norway man who fled after crashing a pickup truck in Mechanic Falls on Tuesday night and leaving a critically injured passenger at the scene appeared in court Friday on felony charges.

Eric Campbell, 33, was charged with driving to endanger and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or death. Each charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Passenger Richard Cole, 34, of Norway remained listed in critical condition as of Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Eighth District Court Judge Rick Lawrence denied Campbell’s application for a court-appointed lawyer, saying he made too much money from his full-time construction job.

Lawrence set Campbell’s bail at $1,500 cash or $500 cash with supervised release.


Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis said he expected a charge of operating under the influence would be added in the case against Campbell.

According to an affidavit written by Mechanic Falls police Sgt. Alfred J. Daigle, the pickup Campbell was driving Tuesday night struck a utility pole and a tree at 107 Pleasant St. at about 11:15 p.m.

A witness at the scene said Campbell had climbed out through the shattered windshield of the truck, repeating the phrases: “I’m sorry,” and, “This is my first accident.”

When police looked for Campbell at the scene, his wife, Karen, told police that her husband had been standing next to a nearby home but had disappeared. She said he had likely panicked. She said he had been drinking at a local pub earlier in the night, where he consumed four beers before driving.

An accident reconstruction team from Maine State Police was called in for the crash that “we thought would become a fatal,” according to the affidavit.

A dispatcher sent an Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office tracking dog to the scene to search for Campbell, who had entered a wooded area behind the nearby home, then went to North Street before continuing on foot. Footprints found by police around several cars led them to believe Campbell had tried to find one that was unlocked.


After rescue crews pulled Cole from the truck, he was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he was listed in critical condition. Because a breathing tube was inserted in his throat, he wasn’t able to be interviewed by police. A doctor told police that Cole had sustained several facial fractures.

Campbell’s cousin picked him up in Mechanic Falls and took him to the police station there at about 5 a.m. the next morning. After initially agreeing to speak with police, Campbell later changed his mind after he was read his rights. Police gave Campbell a car ride to the hospital to be checked for injuries. During the trip, police noted the odor of intoxicating liquors coming from Campbell, Daigle wrote in his affidavit.

An attorney representing Campbell in court Friday told Judge Lawrence that Campbell is married with three children, he’s never failed to appear in court and hasn’t violated conditions of probation for past criminal convictions.

“He perhaps panicked at the scene but did the right thing and turned himself in,” attorney Ed Rabasco told the judge.

Matulis said Campbell is accused of having run from his friends after “he hurt one of them extremely badly,” so he does pose a risk of not showing up for court.

Lawrence ordered Campbell, if released from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, to refrain from having any alcohol or illegal drugs for which he can be searched and tested at random. He is barred from having any contact with Cole and is prohibited from visiting any place that serves liquor.

Campbell said Cole lived with him and that his main goal was to get back to work so he could help Cole’s family.

Comments are no longer available on this story