AUGUSTA — A Winslow man who had to be revived from a drug overdose at the hospital after his arrest has been sentenced to an initial 363 days in jail for leading police on a chase last year from Waterville through several towns.

The pursuit ended only after a Maine State Police trooper used his cruiser to bump the vehicle to a stop.

Donald E. Chandler, 39, pleaded guilty Friday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta to several charges, including felony counts of eluding an officer and unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. He was sentenced to eight years of incarceration, with all but 363 days of that sentence suspended.

Conditions include that he complete the Kennebec County jail’s substance abuse treatment program known as the Criminogenic Addiction & Recovery Academy, or CARA.

Chandler told Superior Court Justice William Stokes he was extremely grateful to be able to take part in the CARA program and he now has no desire to use drugs, which he said he has lost several family members to. Chandler said he essentially died of an overdose the night of the incident until he was revived with Narcan at MaineGeneral Medical Center. He said the chase with police, as well as a second operating under the influence arrest just days after it, occurred during his 58-day drug relapse.

“I made a huge mistake,” said Chandler, wearing a green Kennebec County Correctional Facility uniform, adding that in his 58-day relapse he destroyed much of his life. “I lost my first wife, aunts, uncles, nephews (to drugs). It’s an epidemic, and it’s scary. I died that night. I wanted to die because of what drugs did to me.”


Prosecutor Shannon Flaherty, an assistant district attorney in Kennebec County, said that on Monday, Sept. 5, 2021, at least one person reported a driver on Interstate 95 weaving and driving in the breakdown lane, and getting off exit 130 in Waterville. A Waterville police officer found the vehicle, later determined to be driven by Chandler, on Main Street and, despite the officer using his cruiser’s lights and sirens, Chandler drove off and didn’t stop.

He accelerated to about 40 mph on Main Street, then traveled into Winslow, increasing speed to 50 to 60 mph while sometimes swerving across the road. Chandler then continued, with local officers and later Maine State Police in pursuit, through Benton, Clinton, Burnham and Troy, reaching speeds of more than 80 mph, with the chase lasting 24.5 miles in total.

The pursuit ended only when a state police trooper used his cruiser to perform a “precision immobilization technique” by using his cruiser to strike and spin out Chandler’s vehicle, which prompted Chandler to stop.

Police said Chandler appeared lethargic and had slurred speech. Flaherty said Chandler was also on bail at the time, and didn’t have a valid license as he had been deemed a habitual offender. A search of his vehicle turned up more than 23 grams of fentanyl powder, as well as drug paraphernalia.

Flaherty said Chandler almost had to be carried into the Waterville police station because he was so impaired. She said police would testify, if the case had gone to trial, that Chandler appeared to be passing out and nodding off, so they had him taken by ambulance first to Thayer Center for Health in Waterville, then to MaineGeneral hospital in Augusta. She said he was suffering an apparent drug overdose, and police believed he may have ingested some drugs during the chase. She said the use of Narcan at the hospital saved his life.

His blood tested positive for drugs, including fentanyl.


Flaherty said when Chandler went to the police station the next day he apologized to officers there.

But a week later, on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 12, police received four 911 calls from people reporting a camper being driven erratically and the operator, whom police said was Chandler, “appearing to be out of it.”

Police caught up to the vehicle on the Kennebec River Bridge that carries Interstate 95 over the river in Fairfield and saw it weaving, and pulled the camper over and spoke to the driver, Chandler, who they reported was again lethargic, with a blank stare, and his eyelids puffy and almost completely closed. He admitted to police he had taken Gabapentin, a pain reliever.

Testing indicated he did not have any alcohol in his system but a police drug recognition expert did an exam and determined Chandler was impaired by narcotics. His blood later tested positive for methadone and THC.

Chandler pleaded guilty to eluding an officer, unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs, violating condition of release, criminal operating under the influence, operating after revocation and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. Charges of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs, aggravated operating after revocation, driving to endanger and criminal speeding were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Chandler said he became addicted to drugs while being treated with narcotics following stomach surgery.

Stokes wished him luck in his recovery.

“You have been given a second chance at life,” Stokes said. “I know you don’t want to use now, and I hope you never do again. I hope you remember this day, and the day when you woke up at the hospital. Because temptation will come. I hope you remember what you went through, and never endanger yourself or anyone else on the road again.”

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