Williamstown couple charged in hit-and-run crash that left woman in coma
NORTH ADAMS — A Williamstown couple are facing multiple charges in the hit-and-run incident earlier this month that left a woman in a coma.
Sally J. Gould, 71, and John T. Gould, 69, both of White Oaks Road in Williamstown, were arrested at the Williamstown Police Station at about 12:45 p.m.
Sally Gould was charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident; and misleading, impeding and obstructing a police investigation. John Gould was charged with misleading, impeding and obstructing an investigation.
Cheryl J. LeClaire, 54, of White Oaks Road in Williamstown, was struck by a vehicle Feb. 9 while walking her dog along the 1000 block of North Hoosac Road, according to Williamstown Police Sgt. Scott McGowan.
A passing motorist found her lying in the road unresponsive about 6:30 p.m. The dog was uninjured.
LeClaire suffered severe head trauma and remains comatose in the intensive care unit at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, according to police. The report adds that LeClaire is "neurologically devastated" and faces a "negative prognosis."
Greg Howard, an attorney with Donovan & O'Connor, is representing the Goulds, and entered not guilty pleas during an arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court Thursday afternoon. Both were released on their own recognizance.
Howard declined to comment on behalf of his clients.
Police cite a series of conflicting statements and activities that they say shows a pattern of altering evidence to cover up the crime, according to the police report filed with the court. A broken windshield was replaced, the damaged part of the car was washed with the rest left unwashed, and that damage to the car is inconsistent with claims by the suspects of a parking lot collision.
The reports also shows that both John and Sally Gould misled police during two interviews on Feb. 16.
The car, a turquoise late model Honda CRV, has been impounded and is being evaluated for further evidence. The broken windshield also was retrieved by police after being disposed of by a repair shop hired by the Goulds to replace it.
McGowan noted that the damage to the windshield "is consistent with a head impact."
The report shows that a next door neighbor reported the damage to the car on Feb. 16, a few days after police sought the public's help in identifying the car involved in the incident — suspected to be a Honda with heavy damage to the lower passenger side bumper. The impounded car shows damage consistent with that report, police noted in the court documents.
McGowan said investigators with Williamstown Police and Massachusetts State Police, using fender rivets found at the scene, had determined that the vehicle involved in the incident was a Honda.
When police interviewed the couple, they claimed the damage was caused in a hit-and-run parking lot accident while Sally Gould was at the YMCA in North Adams, the report shows.
They also said the broken windshield resulted from a rock that fell off a dump truck on Route 7 in Pownal, Vt.
John Gould confirmed his wife's story, calling it "one hell of a coincidence," according to the report.
The investigation was conducted by McGowan and Trooper Ryan Dickinson of the Massachusetts State Police.
A conviction on leaving the scene of a personal accident carries with it not less than 6 months and not more than two years in a house of correction and/or a fine of not less than $500, not more than $1,000.
But if the victim were to succumb to her injuries, the charge would become leaving the scene of a personal injury accident resulting in death, which carries a penalty of not less than one year and not more than 2 1/2 years in a house of correction, or in state prison for not less than one year and not more than 10 years.
Conviction on a charge of misleading, impeding and obstructing an investigation carries with it a sentence of imprisonment for not more than 2 1/2 years in a jail or house of correction or not more than 10 years in a state prison, or by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000.
The pair is scheduled to return to court in April.
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