KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- An assistant chief with the Bennington Fire Department appeared in court Monday to enter not guilty pleas on charges he was intoxicated while driving and left the scene of a crash.
Chad E. Prentiss, 36, of Webb Street, was charged with a second offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. He was released on conditions he not drive or consume alcohol.
According to an affidavit by Cpl. James A. Gulley Jr., of the Bennington Police Department, on July 13 at 9:21 p.m. he responded to Gage Street, near the Energizer battery, after someone reported a vehicle had crashed, lost a tire, and driven away. Gulley said he found the missing tire and some car parts, then followed a gouge mark in the road about seven-tenths of a mile to Webb Street, where he found a truck missing a tire.
Gulley said Prentiss came to speak with him while he was looking over the truck. He smelled of alcohol and admitted to being the driver. He said misjudged a curb and hit a utility pole, then drove the truck to Webb Street but had someone else park it for him. He said he had nothing to drink since the collision.
According to the affidavit, Prentiss did not submit to an evidentiary breath test. Court records indicate his DUI conviction was on Feb. 10, 1998.
Prentiss has been suspended from his duties as a firefighter and assistant chief, pending the outcome of the court proceedings, at which point his involvement with the department will be reviewed under the department's bylaws, according to Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, who is also the Bennington public safety director.