BENNINGTON — A Pownal woman — enraged after thinking she spotted her husband’s girlfriend driving his Jeep — was arraigned today for allegedly ramming and then sideswiping the SUV while her three frightened children were inside her vehicle.
Tonya Florio, 42, was charged with one count of gross negligence and reckless driving, and three counts of reckless endangerment — one for each underage child riding with her. Florio faces a maximum of five years behind bars if she’s convicted on all charges.
According to a police affidavit, Vermont State Police received a call from the driver of a vehicle last Thursday, informing them of a woman driving aggressively behind her along Route 7 southbound between Bennington and Pownal. Police arrived and soon found a vehicle matching the description in a ditch off the roadway.
A trooper interviewed the driver of the ditched car, Florio, who immediately told the trooper that it was her fault. She then described encountering a Jeep that looked like her husband’s but being driven by a woman.
Florio told the trooper that she had just found out her husband was cheating and decided to tailgate the Jeep. The vehicle in front then allegedly hit the brakes, she said, causing her vehicle to crash into the Jeep’s bumper. The Jeep then pulled over, and Florio passed the vehicle, sideswiped it, then lost control and drove into the ditch.
Florio’s three young children were inside the vehicle when the incident occurred, with one of the children complaining to emergency workers about leg and head pain after the accident. According to the trooper’s affidavit, all three children were “clearly frightened and in tears.” One of the juveniles was attended to by emergency services personnel and cleared of any injuries.
Florio initially was arrested on three separate charges of cruelty to a child, as well as negligent operation of a vehicle. She was cited then released after processing. Florio appeared at the Bennington County Courthouse this afternoon, where she pleaded not guilty to the charges. She was released under the condition she does not contact or harass the driver of the Jeep.
Florio was seen inside the Bennington County Courthouse after her arraignment speaking with Department for Children and Families personnel. There was no information available on the status of her children.