Fiery Crash Maine

A group of Maine Maritime Academy students gather around a memorial set up on the Castine campus on Dec. 11, 2022, after four students died in a fiery crash. Ethan Genter/The Bangor Daily News via Associated Press file

A Maine Maritime Academy student accused of playing a role in a fatal Castine crash that killed four classmates last December pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to all 13 charges she faces, including four counts of manslaughter.

Noelle Tavares, 21, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, surrendered to authorities early Thursday, five days after a Hancock County grand jury indicted her on charges of manslaughter, operating under the influence, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger, and criminal speeding, Hancock County District Attorney Robert Granger said.

Officials do not believe Tavares was driving the SUV that veered off Route 166 in Castine, crashed into a tree, and erupted into flames before dawn on Dec. 10. The Range Rover’s driver, Maine Maritime Academy student Joshua Goncalves-Radding, was charged with 17 crimes, including four counts of manslaughter and aggravated OUI, for allegedly causing the crash that killed Brian Kenealy, 20, of York, Chase Fossett, 21, of Gardiner, Luke Simpson, 22, of Rockport, Massachusetts, and Riley Ignacio-Cameron, 20, of Aquinnah, Massachusetts.

Hunter Tzovarras, a Bangor lawyer representing Tavares, did not immediately return calls asking to discuss the unusual charges his client faces. She was expected to post $5,000 cash bail Thursday, according to Granger.

Under Maine law, the criminal penalty for a fatal OUI is the same whether the person convicted drove the vehicle or acted as an accomplice: six months to 10 years in prison and a 10-year license suspension. Each of the four Class A manslaughter charges Tavares faces carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Goncalves-Radding pleaded not guilty on May 1. His attorney, Walter McKee, declined to speak about the case. Both Goncalves-Radding and Tavares are next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 14.


Granger said alcohol and speed were “significant factors in the crash. He said an accident reconstruction by the Maine State Police showed the SUV was traveling between 106 and 111 mph – more than three times faster than the posted speed limit of 35 mph.

Scott and Laura Fossett and their daughters Natalie and Hannah listen as friends speak about Chase Fossett at a vigil at Gardiner Area High School. A graduate of the school, Chase Fossett died on Dec. 10 in a crash with three classmates from Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. He was 21. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal, file

Goncalves-Radding, Tavares, and their classmate Dominick Gecoya, of Middleton, Massachusetts, survived the crash. Gecoya, who was in the rear cargo area of the SUV at the time of the crash, was initially charged with a similar list of crimes, but Granger announced last week that his office had agreed to drop those charges.

Granger declined Thursday to explain Tavares’ role in the crash except to say that she was an “accomplice or co-conspirator” and that the evidence against her would become clearer if the case goes to trial.

“It’s true that you don’t often see accomplice liability in typical OUI cases,” he wrote an email. “The game changer here is we have four dead young men as a result of very serious conduct.”

It is unusual but not unprecedented for Maine prosecutors to charge passengers as accomplices to OUI. In May 1991, the Maine Supreme Court unanimously upheld the aggravated OUI conviction of Hal M. Stratton of Waterville, who handed his keys over to his “soberer” friend Buzzy Wyman after the pair spent an evening drinking beer and whiskey, according to an Associated Press report published in the Kennebec Journal.

Ryan Hurd of Lincoln was convicted of the same crime and sentenced to six months in jail in 2009 after he turned over the wheel of his Pontiac Grand Prix to Terry Richardson of Dover-Foxcroft, who died after driving off the road and hitting a telephone pole on Route 27.

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