Police: Pickle pitcher charged after drive-by pelting in Pownal

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POWNAL, Vt. — A pickle was apparently used in an assault at the Vermont-Massachusetts state line in Pownal on Monday.

Vermont State Police charged Christoph Herrmannsdoerfer, 34, with simple assault after he reportedly threw an object out of a moving vehicle, striking a state employee working by the roadside.

The object was "later determined to be a large pickle," according to the state police. The pickle struck Carl Hoffman, 59, of the Agency of Transportation, "causing him pain," Trooper Raymond Witkowski said in a release.

Hoffman was hit in the back but didn't suffer any injuries, Witkowski told the Banner, though his shoes got splattered with pickle juice.

When police later spoke to Herrmannsdoerfer, he couldn't explain why he threw the pickle at Hoffman, Witkowski said. There's also no indication the two men knew each other or that the incident was connected to any dispute.

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Hoffman, part of a crew monitoring the entry of out-of-state cars into Vermont, wasn't on duty on Tuesday; colleagues said he'd taken the day off.

State police said troopers were dispatched to the border crossing along Route 7 shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, when they received a report that a VTrans employee on site had been assaulted.

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The site supervisor provided a description of the suspect and the vehicle he was riding in, which troopers credited for helping them find Herrmannsdoerfer, a resident of Williamstown, Mass. Officers from the Williamstown, Mass., police department also assisted.

"This is definitely a first for me, and none of my colleagues can recall anything like this happening before," Trooper Witkowski said in an interview.

Herrmannsdoerfer is scheduled to appear in Bennington Superior criminal court on July 20 to answer to the charge.

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VTrans told the Banner that its employees in the field hear profanities or see obscene gestures from passersby now and then. "You never know what kind of mood a motorist is in," said Rob Faley, the agency's Southwest Region District Administrator.

But getting objects thrown at employees is rare, he said, adding this is the first time in his 19 years with the agency that he has heard of an employee being struck by an object thrown by a motorist.

State police spokesman Adam Silverman said VTrans employees have gotten hit by motorists — or encountered close calls. But getting struck by a pickle, he said, was "certainly unusual."

VTrans has posted employees at several state border crossings during the coronavirus pandemic to monitor the number of Vermont and out-of-state vehicles that enter and leave Vermont.

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com or @tiffgtan on Facebook and Twitter.


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