Police dog finds man hiding after crash; DUI 3 charge results
By ERIC FRANCIS
CORRESPONDENT | April 27,2013
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Perkinsville man was in court this week facing his third drunk driving charge after a police dog found him hiding behind his home earlier this month, police said.
Vermont State Police said the dog found him in a tall stand of grass April 9 at about 1 a.m. after troopers found his pickup overturned nearby on Route 106.
Andrew Merritt, 38, pleaded innocent to the felony DUI count and was released from court on a series of pre-trial conditions.
Trooper Ryan Wood said Weathersfield fire and rescue workers arrived just before midnight April 8 to find Merritt’s blood-stained pickup lying on its side 25 feet off the roadway with no one around it.
Wood wrote in his affidavit he and two other troopers went to check on Merritt’s residence a few minutes later and found a smear of what appeared to be drying blood above the front door handle. He said there was no response when they knocked and yelled “state police!”
Fearing someone could be injured, Wood said, they used an emergency exception to search warrant requirements and entered through an unlocked back door. Wood said they found blood on the walls, in the bathroom, and on a railing beside the cellar stairs.
More blood was found on the cellar door, the trooper said, which led police to believe that Merritt had left the house by that route.
A police tracking dog led troopers to the edge of a nearby river and then over several hundred yards to a stand of tall grass where Merritt was found on the ground.
Wood said Merritt ignored commands to show officers his hands until the police dog was released and “forced compliance.”
Merritt was taken to Springfield Hospital after he began complaining of chest pains, Wood said. A blood sample drawn in the emergency room showed the suspect had a 0.109 percent blood-alcohol level a couple of hours after the accident, over the legal driving limit of .08 percent, the trooper said.