Gene Shalit faces charge after Wednesday's crash into pole, house


LENOX -- Television personality Gene Shalit faces a criminal charge of driving negligently to endanger after he drove his Honda Element into a utility pole and then up against a house at 120 Housatonic St.

Shalit has received a summons to appear before a clerk-magistrate at a hearing to be scheduled at Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington, according to Lenox Police Chief Stephen O'Brien. The police chief was first on the scene of the 12:30 p.m. accident on Wednesday.

O'Brien said on Thursday that Shalit had told him immediately after the incident that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

If he's found guilty or pleads to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding on the misdemeanor charge, Shalit's license to drive could be suspended or revoked. According to Massachusetts General Law, other penalties could include a fine of $20 to $200 or a jail sentence of two weeks to two years, which could be suspended with probation.

Homeowners Donald and Gracie Rawson were not home at the time of the accident. After hitting the utility pole, Shalit's vehicle swerved onto the front lawn and came to rest against the house, leaving some scuff marks and minor damage on the siding.

"The pole slowed him down, otherwise he may have ended up in my living room," Gracie Rawson told The Eagle on Wednesday. "This doesn't happen every day."

Shalit, 86, of Stockbridge, retired in 2010 from NBC's "Today" as film critic and celebrity interviewer after 37 years with the show. He is well known for his bushy hair and curvaceous mustache.

Shalit was uninjured. His vehicle, which sustained front-end damage, was towed from the scene.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.


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