BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man has been ordered to stay away from alcohol and to report to police daily after state troopers said they found his SUV overturned among scattered beer cans on a Wednesday morning in Marlboro.
Gary Palmer, 55, of Canal Street, is facing his third DUI charge, court records show.
Palmer also was arraigned this week in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on simple assault and disorderly conduct charges due to his allegedly combative behavior at the scene of the crash and at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.
State police said they were summoned just after 9 a.m. May 22 to a single-vehicle crash on Cow Path 40 in Marlboro.
A witness told police that, when he came upon the accident scene, he saw the driver -- whom troopers later identified as Palmer -- placing beer cans behind a tree.
When Palmer was asked whether he needed help, "he replied, ‘My buddy in the vehicle is trapped inside.’ I replied, ‘I’ll call the state police for help,’" the witness wrote in a statement provided to police. "He shouted, ‘No, don’t do that!"
The witness said he smelled alcohol on Palmer’s breath and called 911.
"I thought he was drunk and not concerned about his buddy’s health, (but) more concerned about leaving the scene," the witness wrote.
State Trooper Daniel F. Bennett wrote in court documents that, when he arrived, he found Palmer outside an overturned Suzuki Vitara.
"Palmer was on his knees; his head hung down and (he) was grasping a tree," Bennett wrote. "I noticed that Palmer’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. His breath smelled heavily of intoxicants, and he was slurring his speech."
A passenger in the vehicle told the trooper that he had been drinking beer and that Palmer had consumed a fifth of vodka.
"I noticed three beer cans scattered across the ground around the vehicle and also noticed a beer can inside of the vehicle in the middle of the roof," Bennett wrote in an affidavit.
Palmer was "repeatedly closing his eyes and nodding off," the trooper said, but the suspect claimed he had drank only two beers and would not say what time he had begun drinking.
Palmer and his passenger were transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for treatment. Neither man was seriously injured, police said.
At the hospital, the passenger said he and Palmer had been drinking since 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., court documents say.
Asked how fast Palmer was driving, the passenger responded with, "...um ... he was drunk." Asked why he would get into a vehicle with a drunken driver, the passenger said Palmer "was going to get me some beer," Bennett wrote.
Palmer later "began assaulting the (hospital) staff after they attempted to draw blood from him," the affidavit says. Palmer also attempted to bite a nurse on her left arm, leaving the nurse "noticeably upset and concerned for her safety," Bennett wrote.
Soon after insulting the trooper, Palmer claimed "I was an ‘alright guy’ and apologized for his insult," Bennett wrote.
The latest DUI charge against Palmer is a felony. Court records show he previously has been convicted of four misdemeanors in Vermont.
That includes convictions on DUI charges filed in 1997 and 1998, both by Burlington police. In the first case, Palmer was sentenced to six to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended with probation aside from 15 days behind bars.
The second DUI led to a four- to 24-month sentence, all suspended with probation with the exception of two days in jail.
Palmer was fined $100 in the first case and $300 in the second.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.