Former city attorney identified as driver in fatal crashBy Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | April 12,2013Former longtime Rutland City attorney Christopher Sullivan has been identified as the driver in the hit-and-run crash that killed a 71-year-old Mendon woman on Wednesday night.
Sullivan, 53, who served under two Rutland mayors during a 19-year career in municipal government, has not been charged with a crime, according to Police Chief James Baker.
But police said charges are pending in the case, which is being reviewed by both the Rutland County state’s attorney’s office and the Vermont attorney general’s office.
Sullivan, through his attorney, turned over the vehicle he was driving Wednesday night to detectives with the city and Vermont State Police who are investigating the death of Mary Jane Outslay.
Police said the elderly woman was walking to her car at about 8 p.m. Wednesday after having dinner with a friend in downtown Rutland when she was struck by a southbound vehicle near the intersection of Strongs Avenue and Wales Street.
The vehicle that hit Outslay was travelling at sufficient speed to knock the woman about 50 feet from the point of impact, police said. The speed limit where the crash took place is 30 mph.
Asked whether investigators had any knowledge of Sullivan’s involvement before contact was made by his attorney, Baker said he couldn’t get into the details of the ongoing investigation.
“Through his attorney he has cooperated and provided his vehicle,” the chief said.
The whereabouts of the vehicle, which police did not describe, was not revealed Thursday. However, a back bay at the city’s fire station on Center Street was closed and the windows were sealed with plastic wrap Thursday. Asked if a vehicle was impounded at the station, Assistant Fire Chief Francis Robillard directed inquiries to city police.
Baker said a press conference will be held today at 2 p.m. to give further details about the investigation. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call city police at 773-1816.
Barry Griffith, a lawyer representing Sullivan, could not be reached for comment Thursday night and a woman who answered the phone at Sullivan’s Rutland home said he couldn’t come to the phone and would not return calls.
Police did not release details about how fast Sullivan was driving, why the crash occurred, or an explanation of why he failed to stop at the scene.
Rutland County State’s Attorney Marc Brierre said Thursday evening he couldn’t comment. However, Attorney General William Sorrell said his office has agreed to help the local prosecutors with the case.
“We were asked by the Rutland County state’s attorney’s office to be involved and we agreed readily,” Sorrell said.
The attorney general said he didn’t know whether his office would assist the local prosecutor’s office or whether his attorney’s would take over the case.
Asked about the review of the case thus far, Sorrell said he couldn’t comment. However, he did say Sullivan’s decision to cooperate with investigators would factor into the case.
“I think I can say that someone who is trying to evade detection is different from someone who comes forward and cooperates,” Sorrell said. “How much different remains to be seen.”
Outslay’s family said Thursday evening that they were digesting the news and limited their comment on the identification of Sullivan as the driver: “We are expressing shock and grief with the facts that have come forth.”
The family also thanked members of the community for their condolences and voiced thanks to the police, firefighters and paramedics who tried to save Outslay’s life.
Sullivan lost his job as city attorney in 2007 when Mayor Christopher Louras began his administration. He has worked as a private attorney since that time.
From 1988 to 1995, Sullivan was the city’s assistant attorney and grand juror. In 1995, he was elevated to city attorney.
Former Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg said Thursday he worked with Sullivan for years and remembered in detail his hard work with the Board of Aldermen.
“I’m focusing on the history to get my mind off the news,” Wennberg said. “Honestly, I can’t process this right now.”
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