Search continues for driver who crashed into house
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | January 24,2013
Vermont State Police say they have identified a man who seriously damaged a Rutland Town home when he crashed his car into it Tuesday night.
But they have yet to find the driver and a state police sergeant said Wednesday that police are withholding the man’s identity for now.
“We’re not giving it out at this point while we try to make contact with him,” State Police Sgt. Thomas Mozzer said Wednesday.
Police spent part of a frigid Tuesday night searching Cedar Lane where the driver fled. Officers in cruisers patrolled the street near Route 7 while troopers on foot attempted a canine track that Mozzer said was foiled by the high number of firefighters, police, rescuers and neighbors outside the home that was left partially in ruins by the crash.
The walls on the northwest corner of the home at 230 Cedar Lane were knocked down by the impact of the red Chevrolet Cavalier, which crashed into the house at about 6:30 p.m.
Homeowner Lenny Montuori, better known locally as hot dog and sausage vendor “Big Lenny,” was shaken but uninjured after the crash. His girlfriend Susan Shaw was also uninjured as was a passenger in the Cavalier.
The welfare of the driver, who fled on foot in the single-digit temperatures outside, remains unknown.
Mozzer said police quickly identified the driver by the registration in the car and by talking to the passenger in the car who, after initially denying that she knew the driver, later admitted to being his girlfriend. Both the driver and his girlfriend are in their 20s, Mozzer said.
Montuori and Shaw said Tuesday night that the driver apologized repeatedly before insisting that he had to leave on foot to find help.
But Mozzer said Wednesday that the driver’s girlfriend, who the sergeant could only identify as “Kelsey,” told police a different story.
“She said the reason he took off was because he had no insurance,” Mozzer said. “He wanted his girlfriend to take the blame and say that she was driving.”
How the driver evaded police and escaped the area on foot remains unclear — especially since the driver left his cellphone behind — although Mozzer said police believe that the girlfriend, who was seen texting soon after the crash, may have arranged a ride for him.
Police looked for the driver at his home Wednesday but to no avail. When police checked his listed places of employment they found out the driver no longer worked there, Mozzer said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Evidence at the scene indicates that the Cavalier left the narrow country road hundreds of feet to the west of the home, avoided a utility pole and a grove of trees to crash into the home with enough force to demolish the entire corner of the two-story home.
Mozzer said the passenger in the car told police that the driver wasn’t exceeding the 35 mph posted speed limit but based on the damage, the sergeant said that was unlikely.
“Road conditions aren’t enough to explain going off the road and doing that much damage,” he said. “We believe speed was a factor.”
There was also no evidence that alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash, he added.
The passenger told police that the driver had picked her up from her job in Killington earlier in the evening and that the pair then went to Rutland. They were on their way to the driver’s home in Pittsford at the time of the crash, Mozzer said.