AUGUSTA — The driver who fell asleep at the wheel and struck and killed three pedestrians, including a 1-year-old girl and her grandmother, last year in Augusta will lose his license for nine years and be required to pay $5,000 for a memorial at the accident site.

In an emotional, tear-filled sentencing Wednesday, Robert Santerre, 58, an Army veteran from Chelsea, was sentenced on three counts of the civil charge of committing a motor vehicle violation resulting in death for striking and killing 1-year-old Vada-Leigh Peaslee, her grandmother Barbara Maxim-Hendsbee, 69, and their friend Rosalyn Jean, 62. The three were killed while walking alongside Cony Road on May 20, 2021.

About two dozen family members and friends of the victims attended the sentencing, with several testifying how the tragic loss of their loved ones has devastated their families, hampered their lives, traumatized their children and took three beloved people away from the community just as two of them were beginning to enjoy their retirements and the third was beginning her life.

Amanda Ledoux, Jean’s daughter, said her mom was a loyal, hard-working, dedicated wife, mother and sister and retired from a job with the state three years before her death. She never missed an event involving her grandchildren, Ledoux said, and walked every day to stay healthy.

“My children had to witness their mother experience profound trauma and heartbreak,” she said. “In the days since the accident, I haven’t been the same person I was. I lost a spark, I lost joy. I know I’m not the person I could have been, because of this. The pain this has caused for me and my family is unimaginable.”

Santerre, both in a statement read by his lawyer, Roger Brunelle Jr., and in comments he made through tears at the Capital Judicial Center, said he has flashbacks to “that terrible day” every day and breaks into tears at work at the thought he took the victims’ lives. He said he knows he’ll have to live with what he’s done the rest of his life. He added that he is a proud Army veteran of the Gulf War and a good parent who works hard.


“I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done,” Santerre said. “I wish I could take back everything, but I can’t. I killed three people.”

The maximum penalty for committing a motor vehicle violation resulting in death is a $5,000 fine and four-year license suspension.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney successfully argued for the sentence on each of the three counts of that charge to be served consecutively, not concurrently. That resulted in the maximum sentence increasing to a 12-year license suspension and a $15,000 fine.

“The state asks the court to send a message, that if you kill people with your car, the consequences should be you cannot drive,” Maloney said.

Superior court Justice Deborah Cashman said she looked at the charges against Santerre as three different deaths caused by his actions and thus sentenced him to a three-year license suspension on each count, to be served consecutively, for a total of nine years without a license.

“This has been by all accounts a day of reflection on what was a horrible day for everyone in this courtroom,” Cashman said. “The court recognizes this and hopes that, with today’s closure, everyone can move to the next step. And may you begin to focus on other aspects of your lives.”


She sentenced Santerre to pay a $15,000 fine, but said that fine will be suspended if, as the defense and prosecutors had agreed, Santerre pays $5,000 for the the city of Augusta and state Department of Transportation to install a monument to the three victims at the crash site. The monument would be a plaque in a stone carving, along a sidewalk which city officials said will be built on that section of Cony Road.

Family members of the victims said, before Santerre admitted to the civil charge of committing a motor vehicle violation resulting in a death, that the consequences he was facing on that charge were far too inadequate for killing three people, and argued he should have been charged with manslaughter.

Santerre, who initially pleaded not guilty to the charges he later admitted to Wednesday, did not have any substances in his system at the time of the crash. He also has no criminal record and a clean driving history.

Cashman noted she had received 20 written statements from people expressing support for Santerre. He works at Shaw’s supermarket in Augusta where, the day of the deadly crash, he had worked a 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift.

Maloney said that day after work he mentioned to his fiancé, Molly Briggs, that he felt tired and planned to drive from their Chelsea home to the track at Cony High School to walk. He made it only about 3 miles then, he told police, fell asleep at the wheel on Cony Road. He crossed the centerline, drove off the opposite side of the road and struck and killed the two women who were walking and pushing Vada in a stroller.

Megan Peaslee, who lost both her mother, Hendsbee, and daughter, Vada, in the crash, testified that on the day of the crash she dropped Vada off at Hendsbee’s house and kissed them both goodbye, for what turned out to be the last time.

She said since the death of her loved ones she’s had to advocate for justice, as Santerre appealed a decision by the Office of the Secretary of State to suspend his license for a year, an appeal he has since lost. She has also advocated for stricter state laws making it a crime to drive while tired.

“Today, I have to pour my heart, and pain, out and beg for justice for my family,” she said. “I never want another victim to have to fight for justice like we have. He not only took three lives, he took so much more — he took our hopes, our dreams. What he has taken is invaluable.”

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