A New York City man is facing several criminal charges after he allegedly hit a utility pole with his sport utility vehicle in February on Route 4 in Mendon while the driver’s 8-year-old child was inside.
Wesley Henderson, 36, of New York City, pleaded not guilty Monday in Rutland criminal court to one felony count each of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, reckless endangerment, negligent driving and cruelty to a child.
Judge David Howard, who presided over the arraignment, waived Henderson’s appearance at Monday’s court hearing.
No bail was set for Henderson.
The charges against Henderson were based on an affidavit written by Trooper Jeremy Sullivan, of Vermont State Police, who said police received a report of someone erratically driving a Chevrolet Tahoe around 6 p.m. Feb. 20.
Sullivan said he began driving to the area of the Tahoe on Route 4 in Mendon, but while on the way, got another report of a Tahoe hitting a utility pole. The caller reported the driver got out of the SUV and pulled a young child from the back seat.
When Sullivan got to the scene of the crash, he said the Tahoe appeared to be a total loss.
Sullivan noted that Henderson seemed confused and was talking slowly. He denied taking drugs or alcohol after the crash and said he only had a 32-ounce beer before the crash, Sullivan wrote in the affidavit.
An alleged witness, who was the first person to report the alleged erratic driving, gave police a statement that accused Henderson of “accelerating, slowing, swerving, crossing the mid-line of the road into the shoulder and back, all the way from Pittsfield to the scene while on Route 4 headed toward Rutland (in Mendon.)”
While Henderson’s preliminary breath sample indicated there was no alcohol in his blood, according to the affidavit, Sullivan said Henderson “began to giggle and smirk” while performing standard field sobriety tests.
Sullivan said Henderson was also evaluated by a trooper certified as a drug recognition expert.
Henderson declined to give police a blood sample but a judge granted the police request to compel a sample.
In a report dated Jan. 7, Sgt. Eden Neary, of the Vermont State Police, who has been a nationally recognized drug recognition expert since 2017, provided the results of the testing.
“Henderson provided a sample of his blood as evidence and the results are pending further testing as the Vermont Forensics Lab did not find any compounds in their testing,” Neary wrote.
Neary’s report said that after he observed Henderson, he concluded that Henderson was impaired by central nervous system depressants and was unable to drive safely.
It took police several months to get the proper paperwork to Henderson in New York in order to get him to court in Vermont.
If convicted of all the charges against him, Henderson could be sentenced to up to six years in prison.