State Police Allege Norwich Manager Drove Under the Influence

  • Herbert A. Durfee III

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Norwich — State police have cited Norwich Town Manager Herb Durfee with driving under the influence when his car collided with a snow plow on Interstate 89 in a late-night crash in February, according to a Vermont State Police news release.

Durfee, a 55-year-old resident of Grand Isle, Vt., suffered a collapsed lung and cuts to his face and arms and was hospitalized after the crash, which took place on I-89 southbound in Colchester at around 1:10 a.m. on Feb. 10.

He remained off the job until the beginning of this month because of his injuries.

Messages left for Durfee via phone and email were not returned late on Friday.

He is due in Chittenden County Superior Court on May 1 to answer to the citation, which was issued through his attorney, according to a news release from Vermont State Police.

Durfee was driving a 2012 Honda Odyssey when he came upon the Vermont Agency of Transportation plow, driven by Cynthia Provost, 41, of Essex Junction, driving slowly while dispensing salt in the lefthand lane, according to the news release.

Police said there were “light snow flurries” and the roads were wet.

As Durfee attempted to pass on the right, the Odyssey struck the passenger side plow wing, causing the plow to cross the median side fog line and strike the guard rails, according to the release. The Odyssey became “lodged in the side of the truck after the collision.” Durfee was extricated by first responders and transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was released several hours later.

Provost was uninjured. The plow suffered minor damage. Police at the time said they were investigating, and that “based upon statements, alcohol is considered to be a contributing factor of the crash.”

Norwich Planning and Zoning Director Phil Dechert filled in during Durfee’s seven-week absence, with help from Durfee’s assistant, Miranda Bergmeier.

Asked for comment on the citation, Norwich Selectboard Chairman John Pepper said by email Friday evening: “As a Selectboard we have been aware of a potential charge, but the incident took place on Herb’s personal time so we have limited information. We are really thankful he is on the mend and healthy again and frankly glad to have him back in action in Tracy Hall these last couple of weeks.”

Durfee, who makes $84,400, has just entered the second year of a three-year contract as Norwich town manager. Prior to accepting the job in March 2017, he was the town manager of Fair Haven, Vt., in Rutland County, since 2013. Durfee grew up in Burlington and attended the University of Vermont, according to his resume.