• Police: Drunk woman crashed into school fence
    August 29,2013
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    Police: Drunk woman crashed into fence

    BENNINGTON — A local woman is facing a felony charge after police said they believed she was driving under the influence of alcohol on July 19, crashed into a fence at Molly Stark Elementary School and left the scene of the crash without alerting authorities.

    Stephanie A. Surdam, 34, of Bennington, was arraigned on Monday in Bennington criminal court on a felony charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and misdemeanor charges of leaving the scene of a crash and negligent driving.

    Surdam, who pleaded innocent to the charges, was released without bail. She was charged with a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol based on previous convictions for the same charge in September 2000 and November 2004.

    In an affidavit Officer Benjamin Lackey, of the Bennington Police Department, said he met with Surdam around 6:20 a.m. July 20 on Willowbrook Drive. Surdam said she had left her car there overnight because she had been drinking the night before but said when she went to get the car, it had been vandalized and the tires slashed.

    A man living in the area told police that day that he had seen Surdam the night before, banging on the door of an apartment with a hammer. He said she got upset when she saw him and his girlfriend watching the incident and attempted to start a fight with them.

    The man said he shone a flashlight in her eyes to stop her and she drove off. The man said he believed Surdam was “highly intoxicated” and said he watched her drive into the fence at the school.

    After checking the fence and finding damage, as well as a broken windshield wiper that police believe came from Surdam’s car, police concluded that the damage to the car that Surdam claimed was vandalism was probably from the collision with the fence.

    Surdam declined to give police a sample of her breath, Lackey said.
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