Praneeth Manubolu challenged the blood test that was taken after the car he was driving in Acadia National Park early on Aug. 31, 2019, went off Park Loop Road, killing his three passengers. National Park Service photo

A young software engineer from India who crashed his car and killed all three passengers in Acadia National Park in 2019 was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Friday.

Praneeth Manubolu, 31, who lives in Georgia, will serve 41 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge John Woodcock agreed to allow Manubolu to serve some of his prison sentence in India through the Department of Justice’s International Prison Transfer Program.

Praneeth Manubolu after the crash in 2019.  Photo courtesy of Hancock County Jail

Manubolu pleaded guilty in January to three counts of manslaughter and operating under the influence.

Manubolu was living and working in New Jersey in 2019 when he made plans to go to Acadia with new friends he had met online. After they visited a couple of bars around Bar Harbor, Manubolu crashed the car while driving back to the park. Lenny Fuchs, 36, Laura Leong, 30, and Mohammad Zeeshan, 27, all of New York City, died in the crash.

Manubolu was driving at least 50 mph over the speed limit when he crashed, and his blood alcohol level at the time was roughly 0.095 percent, a little higher than the legal limit of 0.08.

Woodcock received victim impact statements from the families of those who died at his courthouse in Bangor Friday morning.



Leong’s parents said they “lost (their) peace of mind” when their daughter died, the Bangor Daily News reported. Testifying before Manubolu delivered his statement, they asked why he was driving so fast and said the accident was preventable.

Fuchs family, meanwhile, asked the court to be lenient with Manubolu, U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee noted. McElwee wasn’t at the hearing, but after speaking with the assistant U.S. attorneys who handled the case, she said it was clearly “a tragic event all around.”

“(Manubolu) had led an exemplary life leading up to this, and was genuinely devastated by how his conduct affected the lives of these three families,” McElwee said Friday afternoon. “We think the judge did an extraordinary job of trying to balance those requests.”

In a sentencing memorandum to Woodcock last month, defense attorney Walt McKee said his client “is more than the person who committed these crimes,” with no criminal record “or really any history of any kind of wrongful behavior.”

In an interview After Friday’s sentencing hearing, McKee added that Manubolu has been one of the most remorseful clients he has ever represented.



“It was the most emotional and powerful sentencing hearing I’ve ever been in. And I’ve been in a lot,” McKee said. “To hear from the victims, to hear from Mr. Manubolu, it was just something that was very real. The pain and grief and especially Mr. Manubolu’s overwhelming remorse – I’ve never seen anyone so remorseful for what they did.”

Manubolu was born, raised and educated in India, where he grew up in a close-knit, loving family, according to his sentencing memorandum. After leaving his home country with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and some experience with IBM, Manubolu obtained a student visa to attend a master’s program in software engineering at Marist College in New York, a program he completed in 2018. Before his arrest, Manubolu was a software engineer for Aeonogo Technology.

Coming to the United States, Manubolu faced “significant culture shock,” compounded by his “very modest, almost shy, nature,” the memorandum states. His closest relationships in the United States, outside of work, were with his uncle and brother in Atlanta.

“Indeed, it was Praneeth’s attempt to establish social connections that led him to his fateful trip to Acadia National Park with the three victims, who Praneeth had met through the ‘Meetup’ app,” McKee wrote in the sentencing memorandum.

Manubolu arrived at Smuggler’s Den Campground late in the evening on Aug. 30, 2019. After he set up his tent, the group went into Bar Harbor, where the friends stayed out till roughly 1 a.m., “being loud and having fun.”


Appearing to be the least intoxicated, Manubolu ended up the designated driver. But driving back to Smuggler’s Den, Manubolu lost control of the car going up onto a curve. He was driving 75 mph on a stretch of road where the speed limit was 25 mph.

In a sentencing memorandum to the court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office describes a distressed call Manubolu placed to 911, the local police’s response to a “horrific accident” requiring “as much manpower as possible” and Manubolu’s immediate refusal to leave his friends for a hospital.

His passengers were killed upon impact, while Manubolu survived with minimal injuries.

Manubolu “repeatedly asked” emergency personnel if his friends were all right, the U.S. memorandum said. Once at the hospital, Manubolu told people “he did not deserve to be medically treated after what happened to his friends and, initially, refused a CT scan.”


Since his release, Manubolu has moved to Atlanta to live with his brother. Having lost his job at Aeonogo while he was incarcerated at the Hancock County Jail, Manubolu has been working remotely as a software engineer for Cognizant Technology Solutions while the case played out.


Referring to a U.S. probation officer’s pre-sentencing report, which was sealed from the public, McKee said Manubolu stated several times he “lost the reason to live, all my passions and goals died on that day” of the crash.

“I was at a point where I wanted to be punished or treated badly, but I couldn’t accept when people in jail and everyone were being nice to me,” McKee quoted Manubolu as saying in filings.

Before pleading guilty to the manslaughter charges, as well as one count of operating under the influence and another count of unsafe operation, McKee tried throwing out evidence against Manubolu from a blood sample police took without his permission. McKee’s motion made it to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the evidence was admissible, reversing a decision from Woodcock.

Woodcock had suppressed the results of the blood draw, reasoning that it was not done correctly because police did not obtain a warrant for the blood test and because no exigent circumstances existed.

Correction: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9, 2022 to correct the name of the U.S. Attorney.

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