Ten years ago, Dr. Michael J. Carlson’s wife was killed when another driver hit their vehicle head-on while the couple and their three young children were on a visit to his parents in North Tonawanda.
In what police called a cruel irony last week, Carlson was driving in Ashland, Va., when his sport utility vehicle went off the road and killed another mother of three, who was out for her morning run.
Carlson, a 47-year-old internist and graduate of the University at Buffalo who now lives in Virginia, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Meg Cross Menzies, 34, was hit at about 8 a.m. last Monday when Carlson’s 2008 Toyota Sequoia went off the right side of the road while rounding a curve, authorities said. She was taken to a hospital, where she later died of her injuries, according to Lt. Chris R. Whitley, spokesman for the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim was the wife of Ashland Police Sgt. Scott Menzies, whose duties include speaking to public groups about the dangers of drinking and driving. Police there say the irony of her death is “unfathomable.”
“Meg has equally been a part of our law enforcement family for nearly a decade,” Ashland Police Chief Douglas A. Goodman Jr. said in a statement. “Whether working late on DUI enforcement patrols or coming in on his day off to lead a public education program focusing on the dangers of drunken driving, Sgt. Menzies always had her unyielding support.”
Carlson lives in Mechanicsville, Va., and is on the medical staff at Theresa A. Thomas Medical Center in Ashland. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that his attorney, Gregory R. Sheldon, informed Hanover General District Judge L. Neil Steverson that Carlson had stopped and provided medical assistance after the incident. Carlson is free on $25,000 bond.
Sheldon also told the court that Carlson has leukemia. That fact – his leukemia – played a role in a 2006 wrongful-death civil trial over the collision that killed Carlson’s wife, Claudia D’Agostino Carlson. A Niagara County jury awarded $20 million – later reduced to $7.7 million – to the widower. The size of the original award took into account that Carlson might lose his battle with leukemia and that his three children would not have a parent to provide for them, court officials said at the time.
During the two-week trial in 2006, jurors wept when listening to testimony. A certified public accountant, D’Agostino Carlson, 37, left her in-laws’ North Tonawanda home in July 2004 to buy a pair of shoes for her year-old daughter, Hannah.
On Niagara Falls Boulevard near Witmer Road in Wheatfield, a delivery van crossed a double yellow line and struck D’Agostino Carlson’s car head-on. She died 13 days later.
When the wrongful-death trial concluded, attorney James E. Brown, who represented her family, spoke of the struggles the Carlsons had experienced.
“In all my 30 years of trying personal-injury cases, I have never met a more decent family who has suffered to this extent,” Brown said at the time.
The driver of the delivery van told police that he turned sharply into oncoming traffic on Niagara Falls Boulevard while trying to avoid a vehicle preparing to turn left.
Local relatives of Carlson could not be reached to comment on last week’s events, and his attorneys in Richmond did not return repeated calls seeking comment.