Hartland Man Pleads In Hit-and-Run Case

White River Junction — A 25-year-old Hartland man will spend a week in jail next month after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident last year, which left a New Hampshire man severely injured.

David Hook received a deferred sentence for two years on the most serious charge, which means if he follows court orders and his probation officer, the conviction will be wiped from his record. A companion charge of careless and negligent operation, a felony, was dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Hook also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated Oct. 20 in White River Junction and received a suspended six-month sentence, with seven days to serve.

He was found passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle at the drive-up window at McDonald’s restaurant. His blood-alcohol content was 0.15, almost double the legal limit. He also received a suspended sentence for violating court conditions of his earlier release that he not possess alcohol.

Judge Karen R. Carroll accepted the plea agreement, and asked Hook if he thought he had a serious alcohol problem.

“No, I do not,” he emphatically told the judge, who admonished him that anyone who drives after drinking, and after having been ordered by the court not to possess or consume alcohol, has a serious judgment lapse.

Carroll urged Hook to take the court-ordered alcohol treatment “very seriously,” and ordered him to report to the state prison in Springfield on Jan. 6.

Hook’s victim, Dean Mason, 57, of Meredith, N.H., told the court the accident wasn’t an accident at all — that Hook deliberately hit him.

Mason was standing outside his truck, putting diesel fuel into it after he had run out on his way from Putney Falls back to New Hampshire.

Fifteen minutes before being hit, he said, he noticed a car with one dim headlight drive by, with someone shouting obscenities at him. The same car came back, he said, and headed straight for him, and he tried to jump out of the way. Jumping may have saved his life, he said.

Mason told the judge he had come to Vermont for the weekend on Nov. 17, 2012, to help a friend raise a barn, and he ended up severely injured and in the hospital.

Hook briefly spoke and apologized to Mason, a tall slender man. “I am honestly and truly sorry that I have caused you pain,” he said.

His court-appointed lawyer. Jordana Levine, said Hook had been “oriented toward taking responsibility and making amends.” “He is here fully accepting responsibility,” she said. “He has expressed complete remorse.” Mason received two broken legs, a compound fracture; a fractured pelvis, broken ribs and facial lacerations. He said he was able to save his own life by dragging himself out of Route 5, and he said he used his own belt as a tourniquet on his damaged leg. It was 40 minutes, Mason said, before someone stopped and called for help.

On top of that, he said, he was covered with diesel fuel and shattered glass. “I was a mess,” he said.

Mason said he spent eight days at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and was discharged to the care of his 80-year-old mother, a nurse, and has made a good recovery.

After the hearing, Mason said he was grateful he had survived, and was able to walk — and even jump, leaping into the air in the courthouse lobby.

But he said he still had a titanium rod in one of his legs, and he had been out of work for months and had only earned a fraction of what he normally does as a bargeman on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Mason said he supported the plea agreement, but wished Hook had lost his license for hitting him.

But Mason said he had been told that Hook suffers from a permanent but unspecified mental impairment, had recently had surgery on his brain, and even suffered from double vision in one of his eyes.

“No wonder he hit me. I wonder how he could even have a license,” Mason said.

Hook had a visible and recent scar in the back of his head. His lawyer, Levine, said after the court hearing she could not comment on Mason’s statements.

“I’m blessed to be alive,” Mason said.