GREAT BARRINGTON — Benjamin Badurski told police he had been drinking hard seltzer — and had taken allergy medication —before crashing his car into a tree, seriously injuring his friend.
Badurski, 19, who was arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday on OUI and other charges, said he believed he fell asleep at the wheel just before the crash early Monday.
Badurski was headed south on Hurlburt Road around 1 a.m. in a Nissan sedan when he lost control, clippeda telephone pole, then slid across the road and into a tree, crushing the passenger side, according to a report by Great Barrington Police Officer Bradley Lupiani, who was first to arrive at the scene.
His passenger, Raphael Orlando Gutierrez, 20, remained trapped in the vehicle. Badurski said he administered CPR to his friend while waiting for help.
Lupiani was patrolling the area about 10 or 15 minutes later when he spotted Badurski come running out of the woods toward his cruiser, frantically waving for help, according to his report. He said he could smell alcohol on Badurski's breath.
When asked why he hadn't called police, Badurski said that he couldn't find his phone.
While awaiting medics, Lupiani kept Gutierrez' head tilted back to open his airway, since he was struggling to breathe, the report said.
When the Fire Department arrived, Gutierrez was extricated from the car and airlifted to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he remains in the intensive care unit.
Badurski told police he drank about two hardseltzersaround 9 p.m.; police found four empty cans of hard seltzer in the car. He also said he had smoked marijuana earlier in the day.
He was administered a breath test on a portable device at the scene, which registered 0.083; a second test, administered at the police station about 90 minutes later, registered 0.06. In Massachusetts, the legal limit to operate a vehicle is 0.08 for drivers over 21.
The OUI charge triggered an automatic suspension of Badurski's license.
During the arraignment, however, his attorney, Raymond Jacoub, challenged the suspension based on the result of the second test. But Assistant District Attorney Stuart Weissman noted that for drivers under 21, the limit is 0.02.
Jacoub also noted that Badurski's allergy medication, taken sometime that day, might have affected his reaction to the hard cider he admitted to drinking.
Badurski pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of liquor causing serious injury and negligence; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; and marked lanes violation.
Judge William Rota ordered Badurski not to drive, and set a pretrial hearing for Oct. 22. He was released on $500 bail.
Gutierrez remains in intensive care, but is showing hopeful signs of recovery, according to his father, Diego Gutierrez.
The accident is under investigation by the state police accident reconstruction and crime scene units.
Heather Bellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871