Panel Reverses Course On Evidence In Fatal Crash In Acadia

BOSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has reversed a judge's decision to bar a blood-test from being used as evidence in a crash in which three people were killed in Acadia National Park.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a park ranger and Bar Harbor police acted appropriately in ordering hospital to draw blood from the New Jersey driver, the only survivor of the crash.

Praneeth Manubolu's blood-alcohol content from the sample was 0.095%, higher than the 0.08% limit for driving under state and federal law, according to court documents.

Manubolu, who's awaiting trial on a manslaughter charge, and his three passengers had spent much of the evening at a tavern and dance club before the crash on the Park Loop Road early on Aug. 31, 2019.

His attorney contended police should've sought a warrant for the blood draw.

Federal law allows warrantless blood draws only in certain circumstances, and the 1st Circuit concluded the government met its legal burden to draw blood from Manubolu without a warrant or his consent.

In its ruling, the 1st Circuit said the rules for obtaining a warrant were “onerous” under the circumstances in which first responders were dealing with a crash scene and fatalities, and thin staffing, after 3 a.m. A park ranger also had difficulty reaching federal prosecutors at that hour.

Based on a totality of circumstances, the 1st Circuit concluded that exigent circumstances allowed the warrantless blood draw.

Manubolu’s attorney, Walt McKee, told the Portland Press Herald that he intends to ask the full panel of judges to reconsider.