ELLSWORTH — The driver in a fatal crash that killed a 79-year-old North Carolina man in Bar Harbor last year was under the influence of drugs and now faces a manslaughter charge, according to the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office.
Miguel Garcia, 42, whose address is listed as Bangor, was indicted April 7 by a Hancock County grand jury on single counts of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating while under the influence and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.
Blood tests taken after the Sept. 15 crash show that Garcia had five different drugs in his system and had recently taken heroin, District Attorney Matthew Foster said Monday.
Garcia was driving a box truck owned by Builders Installed Products of Hermon when the vehicle crossed the oncoming lane of Route 3 before hitting a car parked in the turnout in an area known as the Bluffs. The driver of the car, Roger Beghtol, was standing outside his vehicle and died as the result of injuries sustained when he was struck by his car.
A warrant has been issued for Garcia’s arrest. As of press time, he has not been taken into custody. Although his address is listed as Bangor, Garcia may be living in Massachusetts, Foster said.
Manslaughter is a Class A crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Court records show police were suspicious from the beginning that drug use might have been a factor in the crash.
Affidavits in support of a search warrant executed after the crash show a state police dog detected the presence of drugs inside a backpack that was in the box truck. Remarks made by Garcia and his refusal to cooperate with authorities, his alleged ties to drug activity as well as the post-accident activities of Garcia’s co-workers also raised red flags for police.
At the scene, Garcia would not answer questions about the crash, telling authorities he “did not like the insinuating context” of the questions, according to the affidavits.
While being treated at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Garcia reportedly refused to provide blood and urine samples. A search warrant was obtained to get a blood sample.
At the time of the accident, Garcia was following a vehicle driven by his co-worker, Joseph Angelo. After the crash, Angelo and Garcia’s passenger, Aaron Bangs, allegedly engaged in behavior that further aroused the suspicions of police.
After Garcia was removed from the truck and taken to the hospital, Angelo and Bangs entered the cab of the box truck without permission, the affidavits state. An officer ordered them to exit.
The pair reportedly walked a short distance away, crossed over the guardrail and went down a steep embankment. Bangs later told police he was urinating.
The pair made a second attempt to get to the truck. An officer spotted them near items that had been removed from the vehicle and ordered them to leave the scene, according to the affidavit.
Police had the state police canine search the embankment but reportedly nothing suspicious was found.
Garcia was arrested in New Hampshire in 2013 on a federal drug charge, but it was later dismissed.
Garcia was a passenger in a car driven by Janelle Evans of Bangor during the early morning of Aug. 13, 2013, that was pulled over on Interstate 95 by a New Hampshire state trooper for a minor traffic infraction. The owner of the car, Robert Barter of Baileyville, was in the back seat.
A series of interactions between the trio and the trooper led to the trooper using his drug-detecting dog to check the outside of the vehicle. The dog indicated the presence of drugs, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court of New Hampshire.
Subsequently, a search warrant was obtained. Court records state troopers found a “heroin kit” in Evans’ purse and, under the back seat of the car, a plastic bag containing “several hundred” bags of heroin. Garcia, Evans and Barter were arrested and taken to the Rockingham County Jail.
In February 2014, Garcia and the others were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin. In response, the trio filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered in the traffic stop, claiming the search and seizure were unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe agreed, granting the motion in October 2014.
As a result, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of New Hampshire filed a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice. The motion was granted, and charges were dropped against Garcia and the other defendants.