Driver charged with OUI in Vermont crash now faces manslaughter after elderly victim dies
BENNINGTON, VT. >> An elderly woman involved in a car crash last month has died, prompting the state to charge the driver of the other car, who allegedly was under the influence of alcohol, with manslaughter.
On Wednesday, Storm Sweeney, 43, of Manchester, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court to manslaughter, gross negligent vehicle operation with a fatality, driving under the influence of alcohol with a fatality, misdemeanor counts of driving with a license suspended for OUI, and violating release conditions. Bail is set at $2,500, but Sweeney is being held at the jail in South Burlington on an alleged probation violation.
According to an affidavit by Vermont State Police, on April 1 they responded to a head-on crash on Route 7A in Sunderland. A 2002 Dodge Neon driven by Sweeney crossed the center line and collided with a 1998 Saturn XL driven by Jennie Noyes, 74, of Manchester. Sweeney complained of back pain and was taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Noyes was taken first to SVMC, then to Albany Medical Center in New York to be treated for a broken pelvis, broken ribs, and several fractures. Police suspected Sweeney was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In a follow-up affidavit filed on May 10, Trooper Lauren Ronan wrote that according to the Albany County (N.Y.) Coroner's Office, Noyes died on April 26 at Albany Medical Center. She suffered respiratory failure caused by pneumonia brought on by the injuries she suffered in the crash for which she was actively being treated.
At the time of the crash, Sweeney was under release conditions from court, having pleaded not guilty on March 21 to a third offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, her last two OUI convictions being from March 2000 and February 2015. Bennington Police found her in her vehicle parked in the parking lot of the Bennington Beverage Outlet. She was on probation for OUI then, according to Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage.
On March 21, she was released from court without bail under several conditions, among them that she abide by the terms of her probation, report daily to the Bennington Police Department between certain hours, and not drive.
Her attorney, Susan McManus, said Thursday that she has filed a motion to reconsider bail. She had no other comment.
If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Sweeney would face between one and 15 years in prison. The OUI fatality carries the same penalty.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 ext. 115.
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