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Autopsy finds Fairlee man died of smoke inhalation, burns from car fire

Staff report
Published: 12/27/2019 11:40:33 AM
Modified: 12/27/2019 10:27:44 PM

THETFORD — A 53-year-old Fairlee man was killed by smoke inhalation and burns from a car fire after he drove off Route 5 over the weekend, authorities said Friday.

An autopsy by the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington and investigation by Vermont State Police determined that Brian Stephens died of “smoke inhalation and thermal injuries,” and that his death was an accident, according to a news release from Vermont State Police.

Stephens was driving home alone from a party early Sunday morning in a Kia Optima “when he left the roadway while trying to negotiate a turn from U.S. Route 5 onto Sanborn Road in Thetford,” the release said.

The vehicle became stuck in soft ground and snow, and investigators believe a fire began within the engine compartment as he tried to drive back onto the roadway. The fire spread into the rest of the car, and though Stephens was able to exit the vehicle, he died from his injuries.

The investigation also indicated that “alcohol impairment was a factor in the incident,” the news release said.

No criminal charges are expected at this time, State Police said.

Stephens was the co-owner of Tandy’s Top Shelf, a dance club and restaurant in Concord, the Concord Monitor reported.




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