KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A teenager is facing two felony charges after police said he crashed his truck Tuesday night in Pownal, injuring a pedestrian and one of his passengers severely enough they were airlifted to a New York hospital.
William C. Lacroix, 18, of Catamount Mobile Home Park in Bennington, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of gross negligent vehicle operation resulting in serious injury. He also pleaded not guilty to unlawful trespass and unlawful mischief in connection with a separate incident for which he had been previously been cited.
Released on conditions
Lacroix was released from Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division Wednesday on conditions he live with his grandparents in Bennington, not leave Bennington County, not operate a motor vehicle and obey an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
Jackson Crossing Road
According to an affidavit by State Trooper Justin Walker, on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. he was dispatched to Jackson Crossing Road in Pownal, near Butternut Drive, for a report that a vehicle had hit a pedestrian and then gone on to strike a tree.
Walker said he met with Lacroix who came up to him and said they needed to talk, so Walker instructed him to sit in his cruiser. Walker said that while this was happening, rescue crews were trying to free Abbie Enders, 15, from the crashed vehicle. He said he would later learn she suffered injuries including a collapsed lung and was at Albany Medical Center in critical condition.
According to the medical center on Wednesday, no information on Enders was being made public. Lt. Reginald Trayah, commander of the State Police barracks in Shaftsbury, said police have likewise not received much information from the hospital.
Passengers left scene
Walker wrote that he spoke to two of Lacroix's passengers, Corey Shores, 17, and Nicholas Davis, 20, who said they could not remember much of the crash.
Walker wrote that he then spoke to Michelle Gordon, 34, who said she was walking east on Jackson Crossing Road with her 2-year-old son and friend, Deborah Ennis, 36, when they heard tires squealing behind them. She said she was able to pull her son out of the way in time, but the back of the truck hit Ennis, sending her through the air about 25 feet. The truck continued on until it hit a tree.
Walker said Ennis suffered multiple cuts. According to Albany Medical Center, she is listed in fair condition.
According to the affidavit, Lacroix told Walker that earlier in the day he backed into another vehicle at the Stewart's Shop on Main Street in Bennington and was contacted by his grandfather, who advised he see police about the matter. The affidavit indicates Lacroix said he then picked up Enders, Shores, and Davis, and was on his way to see police about the earlier crash.
Lacroix disputed this at his arraignment hearing, saying the three were already with him when his grandfather contacted him.
Loss of control
He told Walker he was coming down the hill at between 50 and 55 mph and lost control. He said his vehicle went sideways and hit a pedestrian, he then over-corrected and hit a tree. He declined to provide a written statement. According to Walker, the speed limit where the crash occurred is 35 mph.
Catamount School vandalism
According to another affidavit by Cpl. James A. Gulley, of the Bennington Police Department, on July 17 police were called to the former Catamount School in Bennington for a report that three males had entered it. Gulley said he located the three, one of whom was Lacroix, and they admitted to having been at the school and breaking two windows. Each was issued a citation.
State's Attorney Erica Marthage argued for a 24-hour curfew to be placed on Lacroix. His attorney, Public Defender Frederick Bragdon, said there is no record of failed court appearances for Lacroix, and while he had been planning to joining the military in October, that would appear to be delayed.