A Fairfield man whose driver’s license was revoked for life following a 1996 drunken-driving crash that killed three people is again appealing to get his right to drive reinstated, alarming families of the victims.

A hearing for Bryan Carrier, 39, before an examiner at the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles is set for Sept. 26 in Augusta. It is Carrier’s third attempt at an appeal in the 20 years that have passed since the accident on Nov. 22, 1996, which resulted in the deaths of Arlyce Jewell, 42, and her 10-year-old son, Alex, and Elbert Knowles, 15.

The families and friends of the people killed that night say if his license was revoked for life, it should mean just that — revoked for life.

“Wounds have been breached,” Pamela Hare, of White Mountain Lake, Arizona, aunt of Knowles, said via email.

“Again we have to be reminded of that horrible accident 20 years ago,” she said. “As Bryan is attempting to appeal what was handed down to him back then, not a day goes by our family doesn’t think about the loss of Elbert. And the reason for his appeal is for his convenience? When we have been inconvenienced every day with the loss of Elbert. I don’t think he should ever drive again, and believe the sentence handed down to Bryan should remain regardless of how it affects his life.”

Carrier, then of Skowhegan, pleaded guilty in 1997 in Somerset County Superior Court to three counts of manslaughter and three counts of aggravated operating under the influence.

Carrier’s blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.11, over the legal limit of 0.08. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended, six years of probation and 2,000 hours of community service on the manslaughter conviction. On the OUI charge, Carrier was sentenced to two years in prison to run at the same time as the manslaughter sentence and ordered to pay $6,000 in fines.

In addition, his driver’s license was suspended for life. He was released on March 30, 1999, from the Charleston Correctional Facility.

Carrier, 19 years old in November 1996, drove a pickup truck at high speed through a stop sign on East Ridge Road in Skowhegan and slammed into a van that was heading east on U.S. Route 2.

Arlyce Jewell, 42, and her 10-year-old son, Alex, died in the crash. Royce Jewell Jr., Arlyce Jewell’s husband, was injured.

Elbert Knowles, 15, a passenger in the pickup, also died in the crash. Another passenger, Nicole Johnson, then 17, was injured seriously.

In a statement to be submitted to the hearing officer, Carrier writes that he completed his 2,000 hours of community service volunteering at the soup kitchen in Skowhegan. He also notes that his father was killed in March 2000 in an industrial accident at Carrier Chipping, and says he could not speak for months after that accident.

He says he still works at the family business and is married now and has two children.

“I deeply regret the loss of lives due to my poor choices,” Carrier writes in the statement. “I live with shame and remorse for my actions and not a day goes by where I do not feel terrible about the choices I made that night nearly 20 years ago when I killed three people and injured two others. I cannot bring those lives back. I cannot imagine the pain I have caused to the families involved. I have tried to work through this shame in counseling but the reality is that I will never be able to forgive myself for what I did.”

Carrier writes that he is truly sorry for what happened and takes full responsibility for his actions.

Carrier declined an interview and referred questions to his lawyer, Walter McKee of Augusta. McKee said his client’s license reinstatement request is not a matter of fairness, but an effort on the part of Carrier to return to become an active member of society. McKee said there is a provision under state law that allows a person whose license is permanently revoked to petition the state to get his or her license back 10 years after the date the person is no longer incarcerated.

Families of the victims of the crash were notified of the hearing in August.

“Bryan has expressed significant remorse and has thought every single day since this all happened about what he did,” McKee said Monday.

McKee said part of the request for license reinstatement to the Secretary of State’s office is a provision that his car or truck be equipped with a restrictive ignition interlock device, which would prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected by the device after the driver breaths into the machine. He said safety will not be an issue if Carrier’s license is reinstated.

“He wants to be able to be a meaningful participant in society,” McKee said. “He lives in the Fairfield area where there’s no public transportation and no way for him to go to kids’ events, to go to the grocery store, to be a dad to his daughters that requires, to a certain degree, a license.”

Carrier previously had appealed for reinstatement of his license to a hearing officer with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but was denied. A formal appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in December 2012 also was denied. An appeal for a pardon before the Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency was filed in 2013 but later was withdrawn by Carrier.

Family members and friends of the three who were killed that night said the permanent loss of license is the only lasting punishment imposed on Carrier and that the order should stick.

Tracey Rotondi, of Athens, daughter of Arlyce Jewell and sister of Alex, said she and her family will continue the fight to prevent Carrier from getting a driver’s license. She said the judge was lenient in 1997, noting Carrier’s young age, but said that he would lose his license for life.

“He did say that he would lose his license for the rest of his life,” Rotondi said. “I don’t know what part of that he doesn’t understand — a lifetime is a lifetime. He killed three people, he injured two people, and the only thing he has to live with is no license, then he’s lucky.

“I wish that he would just accept the consequences of his actions that night and stop putting us through re-living those horrible memories.”

Nicole Johnson, who was 17 the night of the triple fatal accident, said in an email to the Morning Sentinel that she feels Carrier accepted his plea bargain when he was sentenced and should live with it.

“Now, with it being said he wants his license back — yes, accidents happen, but he accepted his consequences already and I would like to see my best friend Bert Knowles, but that’s not gonna happen,” Johnson said. “Not having a license doesn’t compare to the pain and suffering I went through, so all I can say is if you actually wanted your license back you should (have) thought about it when you accepted your plea back in the day.”

McKee said that given the severity of the accident and the request for reinstatement after 20 years, he thinks the hearing officer will take Carrier’s request under advisement and make a decision at a later date.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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