For more than a year, Tyrone Fulgham anxiously waited to see punishment doled out to the man who took his leg. 

When the day of sentencing finally arrived, it was not very satisfying. Mason Perez, the 29-year-old whose reckless driving cost Fulgham most of his right leg in September 2021, would serve no jail time. 

Fulgham did not get so much as a measly apology at the sentencing hearing last week. 

“He showed no remorse whatsoever,” Fulgham said. “Couldn’t even apologize in the courtroom. Had his lawyer read one sentence for him.” 

And that was that. Fulgham, a lifelong runner who now gets around on a prosthetic leg, went home after the hearing to continue learning how to adjust to his new one-legged lifestyle. 

Perez went home, too, and although Fulgham is not a vindictive man, that stings a little. 


“I may have accepted the sentence because I wanted this to be over with,” he said, “But I certainly did not agree with it.” 

On Sept. 23, 2021, at about 5 p.m., the 52-year-old Fulgham was running on South Witham Road in Auburn, getting in 8 miles as part of training for an upcoming marathon. He was about 4 miles into his run when he was struck by an oncoming motorcyclist who had lost control of his bike as he was coming down a hill. The biker, Perez, lay the bike down and it slid straight at Fulgham. 

“It was like a blur,” Fulgham said as he recovered later. “I could see the bike. I could see the guy’s face. The bike went right through me. It instantly took my leg.” 

Fulgham’s life was saved on that fateful day by a group of golfers who ran to his aid, applying a tourniquet so Fulgham wouldn’t bleed out in the street. Fulgham himself has been a source of inspiration for many, persevering in spite of the sudden handicap and even vowing to run again. 

Perez? His actions following the crash weren’t so heroic. He kept driving despite having his license revoked, for one thing. 

About three months later, on Dec. 18, Perez was charged during a traffic stop in Lewiston with driving with a suspended license. That charge is pending court action.  


Then, on Jan. 13, 2022, he was involved in a single-vehicle crash in Lewiston that left him with injuries. Police said it appeared that Perez, just after midnight, was traveling “at a high rate of speed” on Russell Street, headed toward Main Street, when he lost control, crossed the median and skidded along oncoming lanes for a considerable distance before striking a utility pole.  

Police said speed and impairment were likely factors in the wreck, which left Perez partially paralyzed and needing to use a wheelchair. 

The wheelchair, ironically, played a role in what many consider a light sentence in the case involving Fulgham — four years, all suspended — last week in 8th District Court. He might have been sentenced to SOME time, prosecutors said, but because of the wheelchair, the local jail could not accommodate him. 

See the irony? Fulgham does. Perez ended up in a wheelchair, after all, because he decided to keep driving after he was ordered not to. 

“He’s in that wheelchair because of a choice he made,” Fulgham said. “He did that to himself.” 

Fulgham has said all along that he wanted to see Perez face jail time mainly as a deterrent. Nobody, Fulgham insists, should have to go through the kind of life-changing ordeal that he did because of some reckless driver. And he for sure sees Perez as a reckless driver. 


The court cases bear that out. 

When he was in court last week, Perez also pleaded guilty to a charge of operating under the influence on the night he crashed his car in Lewiston. On that charge, he was ordered to pay a $500 fine and his license was lost for 150 days. Other less serious charges related to the two cases were dismissed. 

During his two years of probation, Perez will be barred from operating a motor vehicle, all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile. His license was suspended for two years. 

But Perez’s license was suspended after the crash that lopped off Fulgham’s leg, too. He just kept driving, and he just kept crashing. The only thing he didn’t do is go to jail. 

In our society, we put our faith in the courts to deliver appropriate punishments for those who have done wrong. It’s not always a satisfying system. At times, it’s downright perplexing.

Last month, a man who was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity for stabbing a Turner couple to death in 2021, was given permission to leave Riverview Psychiatric Center for outings in Augusta. 


That man, 26-year-old Patrick Maher, crept into the home of Troy and Dulsie Varney in the wee hours of Feb. 21, 2021, and stabbed them to death. Less than two years later, it was announced that he was allowed out and about on supervised field trips. 

Yes, there’s a mental health aspect to the case, but to the family of the slain couple, news of Maher’s outings is a bitter pill to be swallowed. 

“It’s only two years since I witnessed the murder of my parents,” said the couple’s youngest daughter, Shelby Varney, who tried to intervene and stop Maher during his savage rampage. “There’s no way he can be OK, in less than two years.” 

In our criminal justice system, punishment is meant to serve as a deterrent, but it’s also there to provide survivors and the families of victims a sense of justice. Will Shelby Varney feel the comfort of justice if she one day happens upon Patrick Maher during his supervised stroll through a park?  

As for Fulgham, he was disappointed watching Mason Perez wheel away from the courthouse a free man, but not so much that he’s willing to let it bring him down. He’s come too far to allow that and he still has his sights on the Boston Marathon, even if he can’t run it on two feet. 

“I’m not bitter,” he says. “When one door closes another opens. I am unable to run but I applied for a grant for a hand cycle. Hopefully I get the grant in March so I can get it and start training. The goal is still Boston 2024.”

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