Elderly driver charged in pedestrian fatality

Tuesday April 9, 2013

BENNINGTON -- An 86-year-old North Bennington woman is facing a felony charge after hitting and killing a 79-year-old man with her car in January.

Georgianna Carter, 86, of Lever Road, pleaded not guilty to gross negligent vehicle operation with a fatality resulting. She was released on conditions she not drive.

Carter is represented by Public Defender Frederick Bragdon, who requested Carter be allowed to participate in the arraignment from the back of the court room as his client is hard of hearing and has mobility issues. Bragdon said she surrendered her driver’s license already and has not driven since the incident.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean, on Jan. 26 at 11:07 a.m. officers were dispatched to 1246 North Bennington Road for a report of a car hitting a pedestrian. Dean wrote that the pedestrian, Henry Chalifoux, 79, of 1246 North Bennington Road, was found by emergency personnel lying next to his mailbox. Chalifoux was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center by the Bennington Rescue Squad. He became unresponsive while in the ambulance and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the SVMC emergency room.

Carter told police she saw Chalifoux crossing the road in front of her and swerved to avoid hitting him but failed. She told police she never drives over the speed limit, which on that road is 40 mph. Dean wrote that the weather was sunny and clear and there were no obstructions to Carter or Chalifoux’s vision.

Police spoke to Steven Holmes, 28, of Mechanicville, N.Y., who was driving six car lengths behind Carter. He said he saw Chalifoux shuffling across the road in the eastbound lane, heading for the west, and did not see him look both ways before crossing, nor did he see Carter’s brake lights or her vehicle swerve. Chalifoux was in the middle of the westbound lane when he was struck, and Carter continued for a short distance before stopping. Holmes said he got out of his vehicle and called 911,

Police also spoke to David Crowley, 66, of Bennington, who said he was driving south on Route 67A and saw the crash. He said Carter’s vehicle did not appear to be going over 40 mph, but neither did he see it try to change direction before hitting Chalifoux.

Dean wrote that he determined Chalifoux was struck near the edge of the road in front of his mailbox. An autopsy confirmed that it was the impact of being hit that killed Chalifoux. He said that according to his calculations, Chalifoux was between 234 and 350 feet from Carter’s vehicle when he began crossing the road. Dean said given that there was only a slight curve in the road and Carter could have seen Chalifoux, she would have only needed 97 feet in which to stop had she been going 30 mph, and 147 feet if traveling 40 mph.

According to Dean, had Carter swerved to the left slightly she could have avoided hitting Chalifoux.

Carter has no criminal history.

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


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