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Man Pleads Guilty In Fatal Accident

Newport — A 30-year-old Massachusetts man pleaded guilty on Thursday to two felony charges stemming from a high-speed, head-on collision in Claremont that killed a Windsor woman and injured her stepson.

Dressed in a black blazer and slacks in Sullivan County Superior Court, Luke Garlinger, of Mansfield, Mass., pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide while intoxicated and one count of second-degree assault for causing the death of 42-year-old Shellie Blaisdell and bodily injury to her 14-year-old passenger, Lakota Blaisdell.

“Mr. Garlinger accepts responsibility for his crimes and he accepts the punishment for his crimes,” Richard Guerriero, Garlinger’s defense attorney said in a statement. “He is deeply sorry for the pain and loss of life that he caused.”

A negligent homicide-driving while intoxicated charge carries a maximum sentence of seven-and-a-half to 15 years in prison, while a second-degree assault charge carries a maximum prison sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years. Both carry fines of $4,000, said Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.

Garlinger’s sentencing hearing hadn’t been set as of Thursday afternoon.

“The sentencing hearing will end the process assuming it all goes through and we certainly expect it will,” Hathaway said.

Garlinger, an electrician, has been free on bail and hasn’t breached any conditions. He left the courtroom Thursday with his wife and another woman.

On April 7, Garlinger was driving more than 80 mph on Main Street in Claremont when his pick-up truck crossed the center line just west of the Tractor Supply Store and collided with a Pontiac van driven by Blaisdell. Moments before Garlinger veered into oncoming traffic, a State Police trooper began following the truck after observing erratic driving, but the trooper had not initiated a traffic stop.

Shellie Blaisdell, who had survived breast cancer in 2009, died at Valley Regional Hospital from severe trauma.

Lakota Blaisdell had both of his arms broken.

Shellie Blaisdell had lived in Ohio, California and Colorado before eventually moving to Windsor with her husband, Ralph.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.