Manslaughter charge in fatal crash
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | September 28,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Alex Spanos is brought in for booking Thursday.
A Rutland man, who police say was inhaling chemicals when he drove at up to 80 mph into a row of parked vehicles Wednesday, has been charged with four felonies including manslaughter for the death of a 17-year-old Carly Ferro.
Rutland City Police have charged Alex W. Spanos, 23, with felony charges of manslaughter, gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with death resulting, and two counts of gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with serious injury resulting.
He also faces misdemeanor charges of reckless or gross negligent operation, and reckless endangerment.
Police and Rutland County State’s Attorney Marc Brierre had hoped to arraign Spanos on Thursday. However Spanos, who suffered cuts and bruises in the crash, was not discharged from Rutland Regional Medical Center in time to appear in court Thursday.
He is expected to answer to the charges today in Rutland criminal court.
While Spanos’ only criminal record in Rutland County was a 2008 conviction for drunken driving, he was arrested earlier this year in Clarkstown, N.Y., for allegedly being the driver in a car carrying 185 grams of crack cocaine. He was held at the Rutland jail Thursday night on $150,000 bail.
According to an affidavit released Thursday by city police, Spanos had inhaled aerosol from a can of Dust-Off just moments before the crash.
While a legal cleaning chemical, the spray can be used to generate an intense high if “huffed”or inhaled in concentrated doses.
Patrolman Edward Dumas said in the affidavit that two passengers in Spanos’ 2004 Toyota Camry — Michael Longley, 27, and Eva Lebo, 43 — both told police that Spanos had grabbed a can of Dust-Off just before turning onto Cleveland Avenue and Lebo told investigators that Spanos was “making no sense as he tried to talk” in the moments before the crash.
Longley told police that Spanos had huffed about 1½ cans of the chemical throughout the day Wednesday.
Police said Spanos denied ingesting any alcohol or drugs when interviewed at the hospital. Police said they had applied for an emergency warrant to obtain a toxicology screening of Spanos’ blood. The results of that warrant weren’t available Thursday.
City police and Vermont State Police seized several cans of Dust-Off in bushes near the scene along with a case of beer — all of which police say Longley tried to hide after the crash.
Dumas based that assertion on the statements of 26-year-old Joshua Jewett who told police he witnessed the crash, pulled injured people from their vehicles and saw Longley pull the cans of aerosol and a case of beer from the car before police arrived.
“I grabbed his arm and said ‘What the (expletive) do you think you’re doing?’ and he said he had to try to hide the stuff,” Jewett said in an interview Thursday. “I took the cans out of his hands and put them in the driveway.”
But when he returned to the spot minutes later, Jewett said, the cans were gone.
“They never ran to see if the other people were OK or anything,” he said of Spanos and his passengers. “Longley just wanted to hide stuff and the driver got out and got on his cell phone.”
Longley and Lebo were also taken to the hospital Wednesday night — Lebo with a broken arm. Lebo’s condition wasn’t available at the hospital Thursday but Longley was treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Neither Longley nor Lebo have been charged with any criminal acts.
The crash killed 17-year-old Carly Ferro, who was walking around the passenger side of the first car that was struck by the Camry. The occupant of that parked vehicle, Ferro’s father, Ron Ferro, was seriously injured and trapped in his car, which was pinned up against the side of the store by the Camry.
Carly Ferro was crushed between the car and the building, police said. She died from her injuries at the hospital at 8:28 p.m.
Fire and rescue crews worked for hours treating people at the scene and a state police crash reconstruction team worked all night at the scene trying to piece together forensic evidence to show how the crash took place.