A Gorham teenager pleaded not guilty Friday to a manslaughter charge stemming from the death of a 20-year-old who was a passenger in his car when it crashed in South Portland last year.

William Blanchard, 19, accompanied by his attorney, Tom Marjerison, entered his plea before Justice MaryGay Kennedy in Portland Unified Criminal Court.

Blanchard was behind the wheel of his 2004 Volvo when he lost control while turning from Madison Street at the entrance to Bug Light Park on Sept. 24, 2018. Blanchard called 911 about 9:21 p.m., and later told police the car skidded off the road, crashed through a wooden guardrail and struck the Bug Light sign.

Blanchard’s passenger, Patrick Donaghue of Wilton, was unconscious when first responders arrived. He later died at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Blanchard was not injured. Both were students at Southern Maine Community College.

Manslaughter is defined as recklessly or negligently causing another person’s death. The Class A crime carries a sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $50,000.

“Blanchard stated that he was going about 50 mph when he lost control (of the car) and struck the guardrail,” wrote South Portland police officer Caleb R. Gray. Blanchard’s state of mind was characterized as “emotional,” the report said.


Kennedy allowed Blanchard to remain free on personal recognizance as he awaits trial. Blanchard declined to comment as he left the courthouse, but Marjerison said the case is a tragedy and the family is trying to move forward.

Alcohol and drugs were not factors in the crash, Marjerison said. The crash report indicates Blanchard submitted to a breath test, and his blood-alcohol content was 0.0 percent. He also had a blood test, but the results are not listed.

A background check shows he does not have a criminal record. His driving record shows that his license was briefly suspended in 2017 when he got a speeding ticket for driving 56 mph in a 35 mph zone.

He was also involved in a crash on July 17, 2017. The report for that crash says that he was backing up in a left-turn lane at a four-way intersection in South Portland. His car moved into the neighboring lane and sideswiped the back of another vehicle.

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