Driver pleads not guilty in fatal June crash

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BRATTLEBORO — A Winhall woman accused of causing a collision that killed a newly engaged couple pleaded not guilty to two charges of operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner resulting in death.

Sarah Loos, 26, was in Windham Superior Court, Criminal Division, Tuesday morning for her initial arraignment. She stood silently crying and only spoke when Judge Robert P. Gerety asked if she was pleading not guilty to the charges. After the hearing, Loos could be heard sobbing in the lobby of the courthouse.

According to court documents, on June 8 at 4:30 p.m., Loos was traveling north on Route 30 in Newfane when her vehicle crossed into the southbound lane. According to a crash reconstruction conducted by Vermont State Police Sgt. Robert Zink, Loos' vehicle was in the southbound lane for more than 200 feet before it struck a vehicle being driven by Robert J. Lind, 32, of Brattleboro. Lind was declared dead at the scene. His passenger, Mandi M. Gamache, 26, also of Brattleboro, was transported to Dartmouth Hitchock Medical Center, where she later died of her injuries.

Lind, a well-known runner, was a Sodexo employee working at the Brattleboro Retreat. Gamache was a group leader in the after-school program at Federal Street School in Greenfield, Mass. According to social media, Lind and Gamache had been engaged since Dec. 23, 2017.

At the scene, Loos told Vermont State Trooper Max Trenosky she did not know what happened, but indicated she was traveling south. Loos' boyfriend at the time of the crash, Seth Weinstein, who was traveling in a separate vehicle, told Trenosky that they were actually traveling north to their vacation home in Stratton.

Loos was transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for evaluation where she provided to troopers a preliminary breath test that registered a .00 blood alchohol content. However, Loos told investigators she had consumed marijuana the day before as well as Klonopin, Vicodin, Keflex and Valtrex. Loos also told investigators on the day of the accident she had taken Keflex and Valtrex but wasn't sure if she had taken Clonazepam and Vicodin.

When a drug recognition expert was called to the hospital, Loos refused the examination and also refused to voluntarily give a blood sample. A search warrant was applied for and granted and blood was taken, according to the affidavit.

The results of the test showed Loos had marijuana, Fentanyl and its metabolite, Norfentanyl, in her blood, stated the affidavit.

According to the crash analysis, Loos was traveling at just below the posted 50-mph speed limit. Her vehicle was three feet over the centerline when it collided head on with Lind's vehicle. The analysis also showed that while Lind decelerated from approximately 40 mph to 14.75 mph at impact, indicating that he was braking hard to avoid the collision, "Loos did not attempt to avoid the collision through braking or steering input."

Brattleboro attorney Evan Chadwick is representing Loos. Deputy State's Attorney Steven Brown is handling the prosecution.

Gerety released Loos on conditions that she not operate a vehicle and not consume non-prescribed drugs. The state did not request bail.

"We are not concerned with her ability to appear," said Brown. "We are concerned about protecting the public."

Loos could receive up to 15 years in prison on each of the charges.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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