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Driver whose car killed bicyclist charged only with DUI

MIDDLEBURY — Holly Gonyeau, 36, of Ferrisburgh pleaded innocent on Monday in Addison Superior Court, Criminal Division, in Middlebury to driving under the influence of alcohol during the June 17 accident that left a cyclist on Greenbush Road in Ferrisburgh dead, but she did not face more severe charges.
That DUI charge on which Gonyeau was arraigned on Monday carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $750 fine.
Dr. Kenneth Najarian, 60, of Charlotte died just before 6 p.m. that day after being struck by Gonyeau’s car. According to court documents, Gonyeau’s blood-alcohol content at the site tested at 0.123, and two hours later her evidentiary test at the New Haven State Police Barracks read 0.087. Vermont’s legal BAC limit for driving is 0.08.
Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Christopher Perkett said evidence gathered by the Vermont State Police accident reconstruction team and by the Vermont Medical Examiner’s office supported the theory that the victim had turned into the middle of Greenbush Road in front of Gonyeau’s car, “more than likely” causing the accident.
In the affidavit filed in court by Vermont State Police Trooper Eden Neary, Neary wrote Gonyeau told investigators, “the bicyclist turned his head as if to look to see if a vehicle was coming and at the same turned out in front of her. Gonyeau said she had no time to react.”
Neary assessed Gonyeau as in a state of “moderate impairment” at the time of the accident, according to the affidavit.
Attorney Ben Luna, representing a Najarian family he described as “distraught” by both the accident and Monday’s decision not to file a charge such as vehicular homicide, filed motions on Monday asking VSP and court officials to preserve all evidence and allow an expert hired by the family to perform an independent investigation.
Luna contends that Najarian was riding in a straight line, and that a preliminary review of the physical evidence has already shown that it can support that view of events.
Perkett said on Tuesday that Luna’s motions were unusual, and that he and State’s Attorney David Fenster had not yet prepared a formal response for consideration by Judge Robert Mello, who presided over Gonyeau’s arraignment.
Gonyeau was released with conditions including reporting to court when required and refraining from drinking.
The next scheduled court date for the case is an Aug. 24 status conference.
Look for a complete story in Thursday’s print edition of the Independent.

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