ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The driver of the car in which three people died when it crashed on the Park Loop Road early Saturday morning has been charged with manslaughter.
Praneeth Manubolu, 28, of Edgewater, N.J., was driving his 2019 Dodge Charger when it spun around in the road near the Gorge Path trailhead and slammed into trees. The car did not roll over as initially reported.
The three passengers in the car, all of whom died at the scene, were New York City residents Lenny Fuchs, 36, Laura Leong, 30, and Zeeshan Mohammed, 27.
Manubolu, who sustained only minor cuts and scrapes, called 911 to report the accident at 2:47 a.m. Saturday.
Bar Harbor Police and Fire Department personnel were the first to arrive at the scene. They were joined within minutes by Acadia park rangers and the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service, which took Manubolu to Mount Desert Island Hospital for evaluation and treatment.
Following his release from the hospital, Manubolu was arrested and taken to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth.
While still at the accident scene, he told Bar Harbor Police Officer Jarrod Hardy that he and his friends had been drinking at a bar and had ended the night at Carmen Veranda’s bar in Bar Harbor at around 1 a.m. with “a couple of shots of alcohol,” according to an affidavit signed by Ranger Brian Dominy and filed Saturday with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison in Bangor.
Dominy said in the affidavit that, while at MDI Hospital, Manubolu and Hardy met with Park Ranger Darren Belskis.
“Praneeth Manubolu told Ranger Belskis that he had been drinking before the accident,” Dominy wrote. “[He] stated that his friends wanted him to drive as he felt he could. [He] made additional statements about being intoxicated.
“These statements were spontaneous admissions by Manubolu. [He] continued to have a strong odor of alcohol about his person at 8:40 a.m., six hours after the accident.
“Based upon skid marks and vehicle damage, it appears as though Manubolu was traveling well over the posted speed limit of 25 mph on the Park Loop Road,” Dominy wrote in the affidavit.
Acadia officials said the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office assisted park rangers in reconstructing and investigating the accident.
John Kelly, management assistant at Acadia, said Tuesday that the driver of the car and the front-seat passenger were wearing seatbelts; the two passengers in the back seat were not.
In a criminal complaint charging Manubolu with three counts of manslaughter, filed Saturday in U.S District Court, Dominy wrote that “the defendant did recklessly and with criminal negligence cause the death” of the three passengers.
Manubolu will remain in custody pending a hearing, which Judge Nivison on Tuesday scheduled for Sept. 10, at which he may rule on a prosecution motion that the defendant continue to be held without bail until his trial. No trial date has been set. In his motion to deny bail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Raphaelle Silver cited a “serious risk defendant will flee.”