Hartford Man Pleads Not Guilty to Leaving Scene After Striking Dartmouth Student Found Dead on I-91
Attorney Brian Marsicovetere talks with Shane Harlow, of Hartford, during his arraignment in Windsor District Court in White River Junction yesterday.(Valley News — James M. Patterson)
White River Junction — A Hartford man pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge that he failed to stop after running over a Dartmouth College student who was found dead on Interstate 91, and afterward his attorney criticized authorities’ decision to prosecute the case.
Shane Harlow, 47, pleaded not guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a crash, which carries a two-year maximum sentence, in Windsor Superior Court yesterday, and was released without having to post bail.
Afterward, defense attorney Brian Marsicovetere said Harlow, a former Dartmouth security guard who was on his way home the night of the incident, did nothing wrong in the face of a difficult circumstance.
“Nowhere is it alleged that Mr. Harlow caused Mr. Lomakin’s death ... Mr. Harlow called the police and reported the matter and did not violate any laws,” Marsicovetere said.
Investigators said that Dartmouth graduate student Mikhail Lomakin, 24, already was lying in a travel lane of I-91 southbound in Wilder when he was run over by Harlow and then another driver, a second Dartmouth security guard, coincidentally, who stopped at the scene.
Authorities are unsure how or when Lomakin died, or how he came to be lying in a soutbound travel lane near Exit 12, and say they may never know. At one point, police said they were investigating the theory that a third vehicle may have been involved.
“There is still a huge unanswered question that may never be answered, and that’s exactly why the deceased was there and how he died,” Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand said.
State law demands that a driver involved in an accident in which another person is injured or someone else’s property is harmed “shall immediately stop and render any assistance reasonably necessary,” and provide their name, residence, license plate number to any law enforcement officer.
Harlow said he called Hartford police shortly after hitting Lomakin. The brief conversation was captured in court documents:
“Yeah, I was just, ah, driving 91 heading north...” Harlow said. (He was actually driving south, but mistakenly said north, according to court documents.)
“And there’s a vehicle pulled to the side of the road?” the Hartford dispatcher said. “On 91 southbound, correct?”
“Um, southbound, I don’t know, it looks like there was a guy in the road, looks like got run over,” Harlow said.
“Yeah, I got ambulance and police en route,” the dispatcher said.
“Okay, great,” Harlow said.
“Thank you,” the dispatcher said.
“Yep, bye,” Harlow said.
A Vermont State Police affidavit says that Harlow did not tell the dispatcher that he struck Lomakin and did not provide his name or address. However, the dispatcher never asked for that information, according to court documents.
“The law imposes a duty on people to stop investigate and render assistance, and the state’s theory is that Mr. Harlow did not do that,” Sand said yesterday.
Harlow, who does not have a criminal record, worked at Dartmouth’s Department of Safety and Security at the time of the incident, according to court records. However, Dartmouth College spokesman Justin Anderson said that Harlow no longer works for the college. Anderson declined to provide additional information, and Marsicovetere declined to comment on Harlow’s employment status.
The other man who ran over Lomakin’s body, Windsor resident Justin Ciccarelli, 37, also worked for Dartmouth’s safety office. Ciccarelli, a former police dispatcher, pulled over, called 911, and stayed on the scene for several hours. Ciccarelli has not been charged.
An affidavit filed by Vermont State Police Trooper Andrew Collier gives the following account.
After pulling over around 2:30 a.m., Ciccarelli told police that his co-worker Harlow had left work five minutes before him. Investigators left a message for Harlow, who called them back around 5 a.m. and said that he initially thought the object in the road was a dead deer. It was dark and raining at the time.
Harlow told police that he did not have time to swerve to stop, and instead tried to straddle the object. (Ciccarelli told police he had the same experience.)
Harlow said that, as he passed over the object, he saw a head, and then heard a bump under his car. He said he braked and slowed to roughly 50 mph, but did not stop, and called the phone number for Hartford police.
He went to his mother’s home in Hartford, checked his Toyota Highlander and saw no visible damage. He said he couldn’t sleep that night.
A state police crime scene team found a blood spatter under Harlow’s car.
Lomakin, a physics student who had just arrived in the Upper Valley, was from Groton, Mass., and had been living in Norwich. Police have released few details about what they know of Lomakin’s whereabouts in the hours before his body was found on the interstate, but yesterday some new information came to light.
Marsicovetere said according to evidence turned over to him by prosecutors at least two drivers passed Lomakin while he was still alive, wandering along I-91.
Mark Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3304.