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Local & Regional Briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 5

Hartford Man Pleads Guilty To Obstruction Charge, Gets Furlough

Hartford — A 20-year-old Hartford man, who had already spent a month in prison, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice last month over an incident in which shots were fired into a Hartford resident’s bedroom.

Joseph O’Keefe pleaded guilty to the felony on Jan. 24 in Windsor Superior Court.

Instead of serving a prison sentence, O’Keefe will be furloughed into the community for four years. If he violates the terms of his furlough, he can be sent to prison without a court hearing. He must also pay a $141 fine.

O’Keefe had already pleaded guilty in October to unlawful mischief, a misdemeanor, and he was sentenced to a month in prison.

“The state was satisfied in that doing 30 days in prison had a profound impact on Mr. O’Keefe, and for that reason, we are hopeful that he’ll comply with the strict provisions of furlough, knowing what prison is like,” Deputy Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill said.

O’Keefe was charged with firing several gunshots into the bedroom of a Hartford man in November 2012. Along with two other men, Kyle Doyle and David Devost, O’Keefe went to the man’s home because they believed he had made incriminating statements against them to authorities, police said.

O’Keefe had initially been charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, committing a crime with a weapon and giving false information to a police officer, but all of those charges were dismissed by the state.

Memorial Service Tonight For Dartmouth Skier

Hanover — The Dartmouth College ski team member who collapsed and died during a cross-country race on Saturday will be honored during a memorial service this evening.

The memorial service for Torin Tucker, 20, is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Rollins Chapel on College Street at the northeast corner of the campus green.

In a news release, Dartmouth officials said the service “will include reflections from students and be followed by a candle-lighting ceremony on Baker Lawn and then a gathering with a photo slide show and refreshments in Collis Common Ground. Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson will speak at the service, which Tucker’s parents will attend.”

Tucker, a junior at Dartmouth from Sun Valley, Idaho, and other members of the squad’s development team were racing at the TD Bank Craftsbury Marathon, in Craftsbury, Vt.

Tucker reportedly collapsed on the course during a 50K race and could not be revived.

Tucker’s cause of death has not been made public. It is not clear whether an autopsy will be performed.

Students, staff, and faculty seeking help for themselves or for others can still call campus Safety and Security at 603-646-4000 at any time of day to set up time to talk with a counselor, according to the news release.

Springfield, Vt., Woman Severely Injured in Cavendish Accident

Chester, Vt. — A 20-year-old Springfield, Vt., woman suffered severe lower body injuries, including broken legs, after she fell asleep at the wheel and struck a tree.

Brandi Pelkey was driving south on Route 103 in Cavendish, Vt., on Tuesday when she fell asleep, according to the Vermont State Police, and her car drifted off the roadway, slid down an embankment and struck a tree.

It took more than an hour for rescue workers to extract Pelkey from the vehicle because the impact from the tree caused the front of the vehicle to crush her legs and feet, pinning her inside.

Police were originally notified of the accident when Pelkey called police on Tuesday at about 4:15 a.m. and told them she was in a serious car accident. Pelkey told police that she didn’t know where she was at the time of the accident, but emergency responders were able to locate her near Depot Street and Greven Road with the help of cell towers.

A DHART helicopter flew Pelkey to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

Pelkey was not wearing a seat belt, according to police.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Receives Grants for Remote Care

Lebanon — Dartmouth-Hitchcock has been awarded nearly $1 million in federal grants to use technology to deliver remote care in the Twin States.

The Lebanon-based health care provider announced Tuesday that it received two grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to deploy “telemedicine” equipment and services across 13 counties in New Hampshire and Vermont.

One grant of $500,000 will be used to expand the technology infrastructure, including software and equipment, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and to purchase equipment for 18 sites in New Hampshire. The second grant of $498,356 will go toward equipment for an additional eight sites in New Hampshire and 15 in Vermont.

The sites include community hospitals, ambulatory care sites, rehabilitation sites and behavioral health centers in six New Hampshire counties, including Grafton and Sullivan, and seven Vermont counties that include Orange and Windsor.

“Telemedicine is a critical piece of the sustainable health system Dartmouth-Hitchcock is working to create,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO and President Jim Weinstein in a news release. “To really serve the people of our region, we need to get health care to them where they live. In emergency situations, access to our specialists has been shown to save lives. For more routine care and monitoring, telemedicine allows us to partner with providers in the community to assure the highest quality care with convenience and lower cost.”

Dartmouth-Hitchcock launched its Center for Telehealth in 2012 to develop ways of using technology to deliver care to people in rural areas.

“Our efforts in telehealth to date, particularly in our telestroke program, are already showing positive results for our patients,” said Sarah Pletcher, director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Center for Telehealth, in the news release. “We’re honored that USDA has awarded Dartmouth-Hitchcock these grants, to help us expand our reach for the benefit of patients in the furthest reaches of northern New England.”

Over $6M Donated to Geisel School For Neurology Research

Hanover — The estate of a Nebraska woman has given $6.25 million to Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine for research in neurology.

Susan Diamond, formerly of Omaha, died last July at age 78 and did not inform the college of her intention to leave the money, according to a Geisel news release Tuesday. Diamond left most of her estate to three organizations — Geisel, the ALS Association and Stanford School of Medicine — as well as a smaller bequest to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Diamond’s gift likely relates to her experience caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. During the 20 years that she cared for her ailing mother, Diamond researched where the leading neuroscience research was being done.

“Susan was determined to find the very best information and treatment for her mother, and she pursued every avenue she could think of,” said Marleen Evans, a longtime friend and Diamond’s personal representative, in the news release. “I know that period of caring for her mother was very difficult for her. She always lived with the fear of getting Alzheimer’s herself, which she eventually did.”

Geisel officials said they were “humbled” by Diamond’s gift, which would help them advance research in neurology.

“Ms. Diamond’s transformative gift will allow us to expand our neurology faculty and more rapidly translate discoveries made in the lab into better clinical care for our patients with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s,” said Jeffrey Cohen, interim chair of Geisel’s Department of Neurology.

The department has ongoing research and expertise in several progressive, disabling neurological diseases, especially Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), dementia, epilepsy, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, sleep disorders and stroke.

— Staff Reports