Barre woman cited for murder in death of Cousino in I-89 crash
BRISTOL — Vermont State Police have cited a Barre woman with second-degree murder after concluding that she was suicidal when she allegedly deliberately crossed the center line of Interstate 89 in Richmond last Thursday, July 30, to strike an oncoming vehicle driven by a former Bristol resident, who died at the scene from his injuries.
Killed in the crash was Brendon Cousino, 30, who had grown up in Bristol and was a member of the Mount Abraham Union High School class of 2002 (see obituary here).
Karri Benoir, 23, was injured in the crash and is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, Aug. 6, in Chittenden Superior Court in Burlington to answer to the charges. Since she was still recovering at the UVM Medical Center as of Wednesday, authorities said the arraignment would occur at the hospital if she was unable to get to court.
On Tuesday a hospital spokeswoman said she was listed in “good” condition.
It was at around 7:27 p.m. on July 30 that VSP and other emergency departments responded to the crash near mile marker 79 of I-89, an area just north of Exit 11 in Richmond.
Benoir was taken to UVM Medical Center for treatment of what VSP described as serious injuries. The driver of a third vehicle involved in the crash — Shane Libbey, 57, of Swanton — was not injured, police said.
A preliminary investigation indicated that Benoir was travelling south on I-89 and crossed over the grass median and struck Cousino’s vehicle head-on in the northbound lane while Cousino was travelling north. Libbey was also traveling north and struck Benoir’s vehicle, police said.
Information gathered following the incident led police to believe that Benoir intentionally crossed the center median in an attempt to take her own life by striking another vehicle. The charge is supported when there is sufficient evidence to suggest that in causing the death of the victim, the defendant acted with a “wanton disregard of the likelihood that death or great bodily harm would result,” according to state police.
There has been an outpouring of grief and sympathy for Cousino’s family. He was the father of three young daughters.
A Go Fund Me campaign online at gofundme.com/cousinofamily to raise money for Cousino’s family had raised more than $41,000 in pledges as of Wednesday afternoon.
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