Police: Naked woman arrested after auto theft, crash, leap from interstate in Hartford

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/14/2023 8:51:03 PM
Modified: 9/15/2023 12:36:44 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A naked woman stole a vehicle on Thursday morning from an auto repair shop off Route 5, drove onto Interstate 91 and collided with a cement truck and fled the scene by jumping off the overpass onto another highway before she was detained, according to the Hartford police.

The woman suffered “significant” though not life-threatening injuries and was transported to Dartmouth Health for treatment. According to a Hartford police report, the woman was suspected of experiencing a mental health crisis and, for that reason, police have declined to name her.

Hartford Sgt. Will Furnari said police were first notified of the woman’s behavior when they received a report of an individual at Bob’s Service Center on Ballardvale Drive who was “jumping on top of a vehicle.” Furnari said the woman was clothed when she showed up at Bob’s Service Center but removed her clothing while on the property.

A short time later, around 8:30 a.m., employees at Jasmin Auto Body — which is across Ballardvale Drive — were caught off-guard when a naked woman described as being in her mid- to late 20s entered the shop through the back door. She exited through the front entrance and got into a customer’s black SUV, owner John Jasmin said in an interview. Because the vehicle had a keyless ignition and the fob was in close proximity, the woman was able to turn on the vehicle.

“It was so bizarre,” Jasmin said. “My employees tried to communicate with her and figure out what was going on, (but) this was all happening in about a 15-second window, so we’re not talking about minutes of time to absorb the reality of what’s happening right in front of you.”

Jasmin said the woman’s eyes were “glazed over” and she seemed completely disconnected from her surroundings.

Jasmin said the woman drove the car through the garage and accelerated into the parking lot at about 30 miles per hour, nearly striking an employee. While in the parking lot, she backed the car directly into three vehicles before exiting onto Route 5 toward I-91.

“It was like a pinball machine outside,” Jasmin said. “She just hit a car, backed up, hit (a second) car, and backed up (into a third) car. ... Finally she got free of the parking lot and was gone. And all this happened within a minute.”

As officers were responding to the call from Bob’s, dispatch received a report that a black SUV had crashed into a cement truck on I-91 and overturned. Hartford firefighters at the crash scene reported that a woman fled and “jumped from the I-91 overpass onto I-89 southbound,” the report stated. Police officers located the woman on the pavement of southbound Interstate 89, Furnari said.

The incident caused a significant traffic disruption on both interstates. The I-91 incident drew state and local emergency responders from the Hartford police and fire departments, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Vermont State Police, Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles and Vermont Agency of Transportation.

All three vehicles remaining at Jasmin Auto Body — two belonging to customers and one to an employee — suffered severe damage. The front ends of the two customer vehicles were compacted, and the hoods were bent and forced open. One of the cars had pipes and parts dangling from the engine, a shattered windshield and a front wheel that had fallen completely off the axle.

Furnari said the cement truck was damaged but drivable and that the driver was uninjured.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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