Driver in South Stream Road crash facing felony charge


BENNINGTON -- A man who police said was driving 100 mph on South Stream Road before crashing his car while trying to pass a Jeep is now facing a felony charge.

Shane L. Wilkinson, 20, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to gross negligent vehicle operation resulting in serious injury. If convicted he would face no more than a 15-year jail sentence and up to a $15,000 fine.

Wilkinson was released on conditions that not drive or have contact with two of the three other people in the car when it crashed.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Jason Burnham, on May 15 at 6:25 p.m. he was dispatched to South Stream Road, near the Coleville Road intersection, for a reported crash. There he found a 2002 Subaru Legacy 20 feet off the road in a field with two of its passengers, Jessica Gilbert, 29, and Sarah Thompson, 17, lying on the ground. Burnham reported that Gilbert was screaming that she could not move her legs. She was taken to Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. Thompson was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. She would later tell police she suffered injured ribs and a cracked tailbone.

The Bennington Rural Fire Department and Bennington Rescue Squad responded to the crash.

Burnham wrote that the driver, Wilkinson, was in the roadway screaming. "This is (expletive). I am going to be blamed for this," he said, according to Burnham, among other things.

He was bleeding from the left ear and after some difficulty was convinced to go to SVMC.

Shawn Bulson, 18, was the other passenger in the car. He was not injured and had been helping the female passengers. He told police that he and the others were at a duck pond firing Wilkinson’s shotgun, but they left. Wilkinson was trying to pass a Jeep when another came up over a hill. Wilkinson’s car went off the road and rolled a few times. He said they were going at least 95 mph.

The driver of the oncoming car, Clarence Graether, 66, said he was traveling 35 mph when he saw the Subaru enter his lane to pass the Jeep before it went off the road.

William Cota, 74, said he was driving behind Graether and saw the crash. He said after they were out, a male was yelling at the driver, calling him names. Cota thought the other male was about to strike the driver.

The driver of the Jeep, Amber Kilbride, 22, said she had been at the wildlife preserve in Pownal with her boyfriend, and that four other people were there with a Subaru. She decided to leave, and the Subaru followed, tailgating her while she did 50 mph while it swerved.

Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean, a crash reconstruct expert, said Wilkins vehicle was doing 39 mph while airborne. It went 45 feet before landing where it rolled twice.

The posted speed limit on that road is 35 mph.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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