AUGUSTA — David Kimberlin was behind the wheel of his pickup truck on a snowy, slick road on Jan. 19, 2011, when his pickup crossed the center line on Unity Road and hit an oncoming car head-on.

Jessica Eldridge, 36, of Winslow, died in that Unity Township crash, leaving behind three daughters.

Two of them were in Kennebec County Superior Court on Monday, along with other family members, to hear Kimberlin admit to causing the death of a person while committing a traffic infraction.

Assistant District Attorney Tracy DeVoll said Kimberlin was speeding.

“I know that no matter what I do or whatever will happen, it will not bring back the lost life,” Kimberlin said before apologizing to the family. “I wish none of this would have happened. I don’t think I was speeding.”

Kimberlin, who had two previous speeding citations, said he works full time as a welder. He and his girlfriend, who watched the hearing, were both injured in the crash.

Eldridge’s family blamed Kimberlin for her death. Eldridge’s mother, Sarah Luce, of Vassalboro, said she wanted more revisions to the laws covering irresponsible drivers.

“Today I feel the impact of having my daughter ripped from my life as a sharp jab to the heart,” Luce said.

Outside the courthouse, she said, “I hope that we can all continue with a little more peace of mind than we have had up to this point.”

Under a plea bargain, Kimberlin, 22, of Windham, was fined $1,500 and ordered to complete 250 hours of community service work. His driver’s license was suspended for three years, running concurrently with a three-year suspension imposed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for the same accident.

The civil violation carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and a four-year license suspension.

Kimberlin was not charged with anything else in connection with the crash, DeVoll told Justice Nancy Mills. Kimberlin was to go on trial for the violation on Monday, but instead DeVoll and Kimberlin’s attorney, David Van Dyke, came to a plea agreement. Mills heard from Kimberlin as well as five members of Eldridge’s family.

“Jess was the core of all our family gatherings,” said Eldridge’s uncle, Stephen Brough, of Bangor.

Eldridge’s daughter Monique Sutherland, a high school sophomore, broke into tears while describing her loss. Her father, Alan Sutherland, of Vassalboro, stepped in to help her.

Van Dyke told the judge that a police reconstructionist and a college physicist came to different conclusions about Kimberlin’s speed that night, with the deputy’s estimate higher than the civilian’s.

Those exact speeds were not disclosed, but Alan Sutherland told Kimberlin: “You need to understand what your careless actions have done. You’ve impacted a lot more than just the person you killed. The reconstructionist said you were going 30 mph over the speed limit in a snowstorm. What were you thinking?”

Eldridge’s eldest daughter, Kirsten Violette, of Orono, told the judge about being a college freshman and losing her only parent, and having to face life on her own. She described her mother as “an outstanding parent who would have been a loving and outstanding grandmother.”

She recalled the “Fun Fridays” when the girls and their mother would take off for spontaneous day trips.

Eldridge was an advocate for children’s services, and worked for Child Development Services, Project PEDS in northern Kennebec County.

Mills outlined the civil statute governing the proceedings and thanked the family for their remarks after she imposed the fine and community service.

“It’s obviously disappointing to the family, because there’s a lot of love in that family,” Van Dyke said afterward. “The Legislature, in its wisdom, recognized that there are accidents without crimes.”

A wrongful-death lawsuit brought in Kennebec County Superior Court by Eldridge’s widower, Douglas Eldridge, ended with a minor settlement in January. Details of the settlement were not available Monday.


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