Driver pleads not guilty to charges in crash with injury


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-18-2022 4:08 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The driver in a rollover crash that garnered global attention for a rescue that was said to be aided by a dog had consumed an alcoholic drink commonly known as a “scorpion bowl” made from five different distilled spirits and told police that he was “hammered,” according to a police affidavit filed in the driver’s arraignment in court this week.

Cameron Laundry, 31, of North Hartland, pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence and causing serious bodily injury in addition to gross negligence in operating a vehicle resulting in serious injury in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction on Tuesday.

If found guilty, each count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $15,000.

Meanwhile, Laundry’s passenger, Justin Connors, continues to recover at home in Norwich, following three operations and 26 stitches for head wounds, according to his ex-wife, Kristin Connors, who remains in close contact with him.

“He’s doing remarkable for what he’s been through,” Kristin Connors said. “We talk about the fact that, honestly, he’s lucky to be alive. If they didn’t have airbags in vehicles, this would be a completely different conversation.”

Laundry and Connors, 40, both excavation and landscaping contractors, were returning from dinner on Jan. 3 when, around 10 p.m., Laundry’s pickup left the highway and came to rest in the gully between the northbound lanes of Interstate 89 and an entrance ramp. Both were ejected from the vehicle into the snow.

The crash drew worldwide media attention because initial reports suggested that Laundry’s Shiloh shepherd Tinsley, which had also been thrown from the vehicle and was roaming the highway, had led responders to the gully where the wrecked vehicle otherwise could not be observed.

Vermont State Police later clarified that they were already en route to the scene when New Hampshire police arrived and tried to catch Tinsley, who stood guard while emergency aid was administered to Laundry and Connors.

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Connors’ dog, Grizzy, which was also in the truck, was found dead near I-89 the next morning.

In an interview with the Valley News after the crash, Laundry said, “Obviously, we did have some drinks, but I don’t think there was any overdrinking whatsoever.”

The affidavit from Trooper Stacia Geno paints a different picture, however.

Geno, who said she had “prior law enforcement interactions” with Laundry, said he showed signs of intoxication when she arrived and was “slurring his words and acting irrationally.” He would not cooperate with EMS crews and “only wanted to speak to the officers he was familiar with,” Geno wrote.

Laundry “admitted to one of those officers that he was ‘hammered.’ It took a lot of coaxing to get him to the ambulance, which he ended up walking to against medical advice.” Once arriving at the hospital, Laundry “would not get off the ambulance stretcher and onto the Emergency Department bed,” Geno wrote.

But when Laundry was told that Tinsley was “safe and on her way home,” his behavior changed, according the affidavit.

“Once (Laundry) was informed of this, he was much more cooperative,” Geno wrote.

Laundry’s blood alcohol level was .15%, nearly double the .08% legal limit in Vermont.

Among the conditions of his release on bail, Laundry is ordered not to “abuse or harass” Connors or “discuss the facts” of the case with him.

Daniel Sedon, Laundry’s attorney, said that the county prosecutor has not yet presented the evidence in the case against his client “so I can’t comment until I see the evidence.”

Kristin Connors said that her ex-husband suffered a broken femur and tibia in the crash and has so far undergone three surgeries that include having a metal rod inserted at his hip that “cuts all the way down that side of the leg” to his knee in addition to replacing two vertebra that have been fused with a metal disc “and a couple of screws.”

Next up is a hip replacement, she said, “but they can’t do that until the stabilize the leg,” she said.

 Justin Connors is undergoing both occupational therapy and physical therapy and is being attended to at home by visiting nurses and therapists – and even his elder daughter is helping out.

Kristin Connors said their 10-year old daughter, Payton – she has two younger sisters ages 9 and 5 – “is like a little mother hen. She’s really stepped into that motherly role” to her father.

Initially, when Justin Connors was sent him home from the hospital he was relying upon a friend for care, but Kristin Connors she had intervened quickly to set things in order.

“I got on the phone and told the hospital you can’t send a single father of three kids home in the care of another guy,” Kristin Connors related.

“That’s when we got the VNA (VNAs of Vermont) to come in and do OT, PT and general nurse services and that’s been very critical in his recovery,” she said.

Contact John Lippman at