Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 6, 2013

Teen jailed after crashing car into tree on Elm Street

Injured passengers facing cocaine charges

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — Two people are still in the hospital and one person is in jail following a violent, one-car crash on Elm Street late last week.

Bradford Miller, 19, of 18 Dale St., Apt. 4B, Andover, was behind the wheel of his 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer at around 1 a.m. Friday when he lost control of the vehicle and smashed into a tree in front of 83 Elm St.

Miller was out of the car and walking around the accident scene when police arrived while two people were trapped in the crumpled vehicle.

Miller sustained minor injuries and was arraigned in his hospital room at Lawrence General Hospital Friday afternoon on multiple charges, including two counts of operating under the influence of liquor causing serious bodily injury, being a minor in possession of alcohol, speeding, a marked lanes violation and possession of cocaine.

Because he has a separate, outstanding drunken-driving case against him from last June, Miller was remanded to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and taken to Middleton Jail, where he will be incarcerated for at least the next 60 days.

The two passengers in the car, also from Andover, were more seriously injured and remained in the hospital for several days following the accident.

Michael Lyons, 19, of 12 High Vale Lane, was in the back seat of the car. Theodore Pineault, 19, of 15 County Road, was in the front seat. While police and fire rescue officials were able to get Lyons out of the car shortly after the accident, it took about 30 minutes for firefighters to cut the roof off the car to remove Pineault, whose legs were pinned by the dashboard.

Lyons was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, according to his father, state Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.

Police have issued summonses on cocaine possession charges to the two passengers, who have been in trouble with police in the past.

Last April, Lyons, Pineault and two other teens were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing after police broke up an underage drinking party on Buchan Drive.

Rep. Lyons said Tuesday that he and his family are “grateful that all the young men are going to be OK and we are praying for their full recovery.”

He praised Andover police and fire officials “for their quick response” and thanked the staff at Lawrence General Hospital “for the work they did to make sure the injuries were not worse.”

`Danger to community’

During the bedside arraignment on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Kate Sarmini, reading from the police report, said Miller was believed to be driving 47 mph in a 30-mph zone when he lost control of his car.

When officer Benjamin Ledwell arrived at the scene, he found the defendant without a shirt and in bare feet walking around the car.

“He was unsteady on his feet,” she said, referring to the report. “His speech was slurred. Officer Ledwell smelled alcohol on his breath.”

According to the report, Miller told Ledwell, “I’m going to jail, I already have one OUI.”

He also told Ledwell that he had consumed 10 beers starting at around 10 p.m.

Ledwell said in his report that Miller also told him he and his friends had pooled their money and purchased cocaine earlier that night for $80 or $90. A search of the car turned up a plastic bag containing white powder believed to be cocaine, Sarmini said.

She said the car was littered with beer cans.

Sarmini argued that bail stemming from Miller’s June 3, 2012 arrest should be revoked.

“The facts from the 2012 case are very similar,” she told Judge Jose Sanchez, who presided over the hospital room hearing. “He was leaving a house party (in 2012) and got into a series of accidents. He hit two mailboxes, drove over a couple of lawns, hit a stone wall. He did a lot of damage.”

Miller was given a Breathalyzer test following the June 3 accident where his blood alcohol content registered at .14, nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

She argued that releasing Miller now would “seriously endanger the community.”

The judge agreed.

“You would be a danger to the community if released,” he said, in deciding to revoke bail on the 2012 case and remand Miller to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

Sanchez also agreed with Sarmini’s request for $10,000 cash bail on the charges stemming from Friday morning’s accident. Conditions of his release, if he makes bail in 60 days, include house arrest, wearing a tracking bracelet, random drug and alcohol screenings and a prohibition from operating a motor vehicle.

His next, pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 17.

Miller’s attorney, Nicholas Howie, did not contest the bail revocation on the old case or the $10,000 bail on the new case. He added there were “additional facts” in the case that hadn’t come out yet that could be reviewed at a future court date.

He said after the hearing he was referring to a blood test taken of his client.

Howie, of the Howie Law Office in Andover and Salem, N.H., said he also represents Miller in the 2012 case. The next hearing date on that case is July 15, Howie said.

Bad curve

A neighbor who lives immediately adjacent to the accident scene said the sound of the crash woke him up just before 1 a.m. Within minutes, there were three ambulances, five police cars, a Lawrence General Hospital trauma unit and two fire trucks on scene. Accident reconstruction investigators were there most of the night, wrapping up around 5 a.m.

The neighbor, who didn’t want his name used, said that stretch of Elm Street has been the scene of numerous accidents over the years.

In the 1970s, there were four serious accidents along that stretch in a two- or three-year period, he said. Over the years, a number of trees have been “wiped out” by car accidents, he said. One year, a car landed on his front steps after driving across his neighbor’s lawn, through a fence and over a wall.

He finally prevailed on town officials to install a series of Chevron arrows to alert drivers to the dangers of the curving roadway. Since those signs were installed, he said, the number of accidents dropped significantly.

“That cured it,” he said.

Another neighbor, former Building Inspector Kaija Gilmore who has lived at 83 Elm St. for 32 years, agreed the stretch of road is dangerous. She said that many years ago, the same tree that Miller hit was hit by a car in another serious accident.

“It’s speed,” she said. “Cars go in excess of 50 mph in a 30-mph zone.”