HARPSWELL — A 16-year-old girl who has had her driver’s license for less than two months struck and killed a pedestrian walking her dog Wednesday morning in Harpswell, police said.

Isabella Slocum of Harpswell hit 75-year-old Rita Douglas and her dog as they walked along the northbound side of Harpswell Islands Road, also known as Route 24, a short distance from the driveway of Douglas’ home, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Douglas and the dog were both killed on impact at about 6:40 a.m., police said.

Slocum was driving a 2012 Nissan Titan pickup in the northbound lane. She has not been charged.

Slocum was issued a learner’s permit on Nov. 4 and her conditional driver’s license on June 18, following her 16th birthday in May. She has no prior driving accidents, according to the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles database.

It is unclear whether Douglas was walking southbound or northbound, or whether she was starting out on the walk or coming home.

“There is no independent witness to say which way she was walking,” Capt. Don Goulet of the sheriff’s office said Wednesday evening.

The accident took place near a curve in the road, close to the intersection of Harpswell Islands and Mountain roads. The road has wide shoulders and the lanes are separated by a double yellow line. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph. It’s unknown how fast Slocum was driving.

Goulet said there were no fresh tire marks in the area of the accident that would indicate the driver hit the brakes suddenly or skidded.

Asked if Slocum had a cellphone in the pickup and whether she might have been texting, Goulet said that question was among the items being investigated.

“All aspects as to the cause of the accident are being looked into, to include distracted driving,” he said in an email.

Robert Douglas, a 71-year-old fisherman, said he and his wife usually walked their dog, a Pomeranian named Foxy, when he wasn’t working.

He was working on his boat Wednesday morning when he got the call from the sheriff’s office.

“The sheriff showed up and said, ‘I’ve got some bad news for you.’ He said, ‘Your wife has been in an accident,’ ” Robert Douglas said as he stood in the driveway of his house with relatives late Wednesday morning.


Rita Douglas was born in Germany and met her husband while he was based there in the military.

The Douglases had planned to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary on Sunday. The couple have four adult children.

When the two met, she spoke only German, but they fell in love, even with the language barrier, Robert Douglas said.

“I couldn’t speak German, and she couldn’t speak English,” he said. “But we seemed to get along good over there, and we seemed to get along over here.”

After moving to the United States, Rita Douglas learned English from her mother-in-law and by watching soap operas on television.

At 75, she remained exceptionally fit and would sometimes go fishing alongside her husband.

“She was in great health. She’d go up and ride up there at exercise class three days a week,” Robert Douglas said.

Describing his wife as his best friend, he struggled to maintain his composure as he spoke, while one of their daughters stood beside him, wiping tears from her face.

“She was always on my case about everything,” he said. “I was always kidding with her.”

Rita Douglas worked years ago at a mill in Lisbon Falls, but retired after being laid off.

She walked her dog daily and was a keen gardener. She spent her time with her husband and family and otherwise mostly kept to herself.


Robert Douglas showed a picture of his wife holding their granddaughter Harley, now 17, when she was an infant. In the picture, his wife had a youthful look, though her hair was gray.

“She didn’t age. She was always a good-looking woman,” he said.

Robert Douglas said police told him the girl driving the vehicle that struck his wife had said the sun was in her eyes. But he said the sun at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday would have been coming from a different direction.

He doesn’t know Slocum and said he didn’t approach her as she stood on the road with her parents after the accident while police investigated.

Slocum’s parents, Jeffrey and Deb Slocum, didn’t respond to a phone message left at their home Wednesday.

The Slocums have retained an attorney to represent their daughter, Goulet said, but he didn’t know the attorney’s name.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan

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