Report: Driver in quadruple fatal crash in Bridport had THC in system


BRIDPORT, Vt. (WVNY/WFFF)  – The driver in a quadruple fatal crash in Bridport, Vt. had a high level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system, according to a police crash report obtained by Local 22 & Local 44 News.

Driver Steven Holmes, 21, and passengers Amber Brewer, 19, Justin Hendrix, 38, and Jennifer Valdez, 34, died in the crash on Route 22A on August 7.

Three of the four people killed in the crash were carnival workers on their way to the Addison County Fair & Field Days.

They worked for Dreamland Amusements, a company that operates rides at many Vermont fairs.

In the crash report obtained from the Vt. Department of Motor Vehicles, police say Holmes had ten times the legal limit of THC in his system, citing Colorado standards where there are legal levels of impairment while driving. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado.

There is no legal level of marijuana impairment in Vermont.

Police say Holmes and his passengers were in New Paltz, NY the day before the crash, August 6, working at the Ulster County Fair.

Holmes was also running low on sleep, the report shows.

Police say Holmes worked the “sea dragon” ride for 4.5 hours until 3:30 that afternoon, then he took a several hour break. Holmes worked again from 8 p.m. until 3:30 a.m., tearing down [the rides] and shipping out, according to the report.

Police say Holmes slept for about an hour before leaving New York for Vermont with his passengers at around 5:30 a.m.

According to the report, Dreamland Amusement’s traveling supervisor told police it’s “common practice to get little sleep” and it’s just “a part of the job.”

Local 22 & Local 44 News reached out to Dreamland Amusements to see if policies have been changed since the crash. We have not heard back.

It takes more than three hours to drive from New Paltz, NY to Vergennes, the site of the Addison County Fair & Field Days.

In Vermont, witnesses on Route 22A told police Holmes was driving at least 75 miles per hour, where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. The report shows witnesses also told police Holmes passed a vehicle about five miles prior to the crash.

The report shows Holmes’ car drifted into oncoming traffic, and hit a truck carrying other people involved with the fair.

The occupants in the truck, Lisa Nunez and Thomas Sykes, were injured in the crash.

There’s speculation Holmes may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Lt. John Flannigan, the commander of the Traffic Safety Unit of the Vermont State Police and certified Drug Recognition Expert, stated the crash can be considered an “impaired driving crash” because of the high level of THC in Holmes’ body, the report shows.

According to the Agency of Transportation, as of Tuesday, 12 of the state’s deadly crashes this year involved drivers with traces of marijuana in their system.

Sixty-one people have died on Vermont roads so far in 2017, state police report, including a fatal crash in Essex Thursday night.

It’s already the deadliest year since 2012 when 68 people died.

“If people would just slow down, give themselves more time and more space, and have good winter tires, a lot of this would be avoided,” said Sgt. Julie Hammond, with Vermont State Police.

Thirty one percent of the people killed on Vermont roads this year were not wearing their seat belts, including the four people who died in Bridport in August.