BENNINGTON - A School Street man is accused of fleeing from police while intoxicated and traveling 70 mph down Main Street.
Orlando L. Vega, 27, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a felony count of negligent vehicle operation while eluding police, and misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, careless or negligent vehicle operation, and operating a vehicle with excessive speed. He was released under the conditions including that he not drive or consume alcohol.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Robert Murawski, on April 20 at 2:28 a.m. he was dispatched to Depot Street where it was reported a vehicle was driving too fast. He saw a 2001 Nissan matching the description he had been given. He followed it and saw it on North Street traveling 45 mph in a 25 mph zone.
He activated his blue lights to have the Nissan stop near Adams Street, but it kept going, accelerating to 65 mph. It was going 70 mph on Main Street after running a red light, and turned off its headlights when going by Valentine Street.
Murawski followed the vehicle and saw it make a sharp left onto Pleasant Street where it hit the porch of 700 Main St.
The driver was identified as Vega. His passenger said he had been picked up by Vega on Depot Street and that Vega knew the cops were behind him, but he did not want to be stopped. The passenger said Vega almost hit the large clock at the Four Corners, in front of People's United Bank. He asked Vega to let him out, but Vega did not.
Vega told police he had left J.C.'s Tavern on River Street where he had two beers and left with his passenger. He said he did not see police behind him, but admitted the red light at Main Street had turned red as he passed through it. He claimed the lights on the car stopped working, and faulty brakes led him to hit the porch. He said he had been having trouble with his girlfriend and wanted to drive fast, but did not know how fast he had been going.
Murawski said Vega appeared intoxicated and there was a half full bottle of beer in the car.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.