Woman pleads in case involving flagger killed on Route 7
MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury woman on Oct. 21 pleaded innocent to felony charges of drugged driving and gross negligent operation of a vehicle — both with death resulting — in connection with an Aug. 23 incident during which she is alleged to have struck and killed a construction site flagger near New Haven Junction.
If convicted, 49-year-old Jennifer Bergevin faces up to 15 years in jail — on each count, according to a court affidavit filed by Vermont State Police Trooper Jacqueline June, lead investigator in the case. She had initially been cited for gross negligent operation and suspicion of DUI, but the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office augmented the charges in wake of the death of the flagger, 38-year-old James Alger of Barre.
It was at around 8:18 a.m. on Aug. 23 that VSP were called to a report of a vehicle hitting a man near New Haven Junction. June reported finding a severely injured Alger lying on his stomach.
“… he was unable to speak on scene, appearing to be out of consciousness and having trouble breathing,” according to court records. He was later flown by helicopter to the University of Vermont Medical Center, where he died, according to authorities.
State troopers who interviewed Bergevin later that morning said she told them she’d been driving her 2015 Chevrolet Cruz from the Middlebury warming shelter up Route 7 to visit a family member in Vergennes, according to court documents.
“Bergevin stated she had slowed down for the construction zone, however she never saw Alger standing in the roadway,” June stated in her affidavit.
State Police interviewed six witnesses in the case, including motorists and Addison County Sheriff’s Department deputies who had been at or near the scene at the time of the crash.
One witness told police he never saw Bergevin slow down, and that she appeared to be traveling as fast as 30 miles per hour, according to court documents.
Another witness reported hearing the noise of Bergevin’s vehicle hitting Alger at the time of the crash, and saw one of Alger’s shoes hit the roof of a nearby Green Mountain Power truck.
Another witness said while he hadn’t seen the actual collision, he had seen “Alger’s sign and helmet go flying in the air,” according to the affidavit.
“Based upon investigation, Bergevin’s statements, witness statements, evidence at the scene and the defendant’s vehicle examination, it has been determined that Bergevin failed to yield to a pedestrian, a stop sign, and collided with Alger,” June concluded.
Trooper Joshua Gurwicz was among those who interviewed Bergevin.
According to his court affidavit, Bergevin claimed to have hit her brakes in anticipation of the construction zone but added, “The next thing she knew, there was windshield glass going into her car.”
Gurwicz alleged that Bergevin told him “I did not see the guy standing there, nothing… All of a sudden I hear everybody screaming and I was like, Oh (expletive),”
Gurwicz, a trained drug recognition expert, said he found Bergevin to be “drowsy, slow to respond to my questions,” and “had slow, slurred mumbled speech and droopy eyelids,” according to his affidavit.
Gurwicz, not detecting the smell of alcohol, asked Bergevin if she had taken any medication, according to court records. She listed a variety of anti-depressants and anti-inflammatory drugs, according to Gurwicz’s affidavit, and Middlebury Regional EMS officials reported Bergevin’s blood-sugar readings to be “a little high.”
Gurwicz endorsed a finding that “Bergevin was under the influence of central nervous system depressants and was not able to operate a motor vehicle safely.”
Gas tanker fire on Route 7 cuts internet in county
No one injured when natural gas tanker explodes near Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh.
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