Man Charged in Route 4 Fatality; Police Say Driver Was on Wrong Side
Timothy Farewell, left, is arraigned on a charge of careless and negligent operation in Windsor District Court on July 30, 2013. Farewell was involved in a Route 4 head-on collision that killed Norma Sawyer in May. Farewell's attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, is at right. (Valley News — James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
From left, sisters Deanne Carvalho, of Bridgewater, Vt., Deborah Fish, of Bridgewater, Vt., and Sandra Brown of Hartland, Vt., look over paperwork after leaving Windsor District Court in White River Junction, Vt., on July 30, 2013, following Timothy Farewell's arraignment, where he was charged with careless or negligent operation in connection with the Route 4 head-on collision that killed their mother, Norma Sawyer, in Bridgewater, Vt., in May. (Valley News – James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
White River Junction — An Enfield man who was behind the wheel during a head-on collision on Route 4 that killed the other driver was “completely in the wrong lane,” according to police.
At his arraignment Tuesday in Windsor Superior Court, Timothy Farewell, 47, pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle in the crash that killed 84-year-old Norma Sawyer, of Bridgewater, in May.
If convicted, Farewell could face up to one year in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine.
The charge marks the first prosecution to emerge from a spate of automobile fatalities on the heavily-trafficked Route 4 that have occured this year. The accidents have led the state to adopt safety measures along stretches of the road, including rumble stripes to alert drivers when they cross over the center line and a planned repaving.
Just after 6 a.m. on May 16, Sawyer was traveling toward Woodstock village in the eastbound lane and Farewell was driving in the westbound lane. The Vermont State Police Crash Reconstruction Team determined tire marks at the scene showed that the accident occurred in the eastbound lane, indicating Farewell’s vehicle was on the wrong side of the road when the crash occurred, according to court documents. Officers determined that Sawyer attempted to evade the path of Farewell’s oncoming box truck, owned by Carroll Tire Co. in Lebanon.
The left side of Farewell’s truck struck the driver’s side of Sawyer’s sedan, driving over the left fender and hood on the driver’s side.
A manager at Carroll Tire Co. declined to say Tuesday whether Farewell is employed by the company.
Farewell told Cpl. John Zonay of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles that “all I remember is coming around the corner saying this isn’t going to be good and we hit. I didn’t even know what I hit. I was only doing 40-45 mph. It was foggy but I could see the road. I knew I was close to the center line.”
A police affidavit said that although the morning of the accident was foggy, the double yellow center line and the right fog line were visible.
Laura Robinson, the passenger in Sawyer’s vehicle, said in a written statement that immediately before the collision she was telling Sawyer that she was going to be at her upcoming birthday party when she saw a big white truck coming at them.
“I asked Norma if she could squeak around the right side of that,” Robinson wrote. “The next thing I remember someone was asking me my name.”
Robinson suffered major injuries, including a fractured bone in her neck, fractured ribs and a brain hematoma, she said last month in an interview. Farewell sustained minor injuries.
The day after the accident, Bruce McKinney, Sr., of White River Junction, contacted officers and said he heard about the Route 4 accident. McKinney said that he had been following behind a white box truck on Route 4 from Costello Road in Hartford through Woodstock. McKinney wrote in a statement that he observed the truck cross the center line numerous times, and at one point, the truck was half way over in the opposite lane.
“The truck was not speeding, just weaving a lot,” McKinney wrote in a statement. The truck eventually pulled off the side of the road west of Woodstock village. When McKinney passed him, he told officers that he noticed it was a Carroll Tire Co., truck.
The accident that killed Sawyer was one of four recent accidents on Route 4 involving five fatalities.
Gov. Peter Shumlin laid out a plan in June to install rumble strips between the lanes on Route 4 and repave the road. In the long term, there are plans to rebuild the road and possibly redirect sections of it away from the Ottauquechee River, but that could take 10 years. Police and fire officials in both Hartford and Woodstock have urged the installation of rumble strips, which are designed to create a rumbling sensation as a vehicle crosses over the divider line to alert the driver of danger.
Farewell attended his arraignment with his wife, Candace, and didn’t speak during the proceeding, except when Judge Robert Gerety asked if he understood the conditions of his release.
Before his arraignment, he sat quietly on the far left side of the courtroom, wearing a black T-shirt, gray pants and black rimmed glasses.
Farewell did not have to post bail and walked out of the courtroom with his wife Tuesday morning. Farewell was released on a condition not to harass Laura Robinson, the passenger in Sawyer’s vehicle. He and his attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, both declined to comment.
Sawyer’s daughters — Deborah Fish, Sandra Brown and Deanne Carvalho — arrived at Windsor Superior Court promptly at 8 a.m. and waited an hour for Farewell’s arraignment, which lasted about two minutes. The sisters didn’t say anything during the arraignment and quietly followed Farewell out of the courtroom.
“I just wanted to see his reaction,” Fish said afterward.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.