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Fatal Claremont crash case could go to grand jury next week

CLAREMONT - A probable cause hearing in the 5th Circuit Court, Claremont District on Thursday for a Massachusetts man charged with negligent homicide has been continued.

The case, though, could go before the grand jury as early as next week.

Luke Garlinger, 29, of Mansfield, Mass., was arrested and charged April 10 with negligent homicide after an April 7 car crash on Main Street - in which he was a driver - claimed the life of a Vermont woman.

The court has yet to set a new date for the probable cause hearing, but since the Sullivan County Superior Court Grand Jury is scheduled to meet on Wednesday there is a chance prosecutors could present it to the grand jury next week.

"Like any other felony case pending in this jurisdiction we will review this case and assess whether or not it is a matter we want to present to the grand jury," Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said Thursday.

According to police, shortly after midnight on April 7, a Toyota Tacoma pickup, driven by Garlinger, was headed east on Main Street in Claremont when it suddenly veered into the opposite lane and hit the Pontiac minivan near the Tractor Supply Store on Main Street.

The woman driving the minivan, Shellie Blaisdell, 42, of Windsor, Vt., died early that morning at Valley Regional Hospital as the result of injuries she suffered in the accident.

According to Garlinger's arrest affidavit on file at the district court, "She had severe trauma to her head and upper body area."

Her 13-year-old passenger, who has since turned 14, was also taken to Valley Regional Hospital where he was treated for two broken arms and a burn to his leg.

The teen was released from the hospital to be cared for at home.

Garlinger, who had "cuts and blood about the head" was sent to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center via medical helicopter.

Just before the accident, a state trooper driving west on Main Street reported seeing Garlinger's vehicle traveling 80 miles per hour east on Main Street in a 35 mile per hour posted zone, according to the affidavit.

When the trooper turned his cruiser around to pursue the vehicle, he quickly came upon the scene of the crash.

The affidavit also states a Claremont officer said he could smell the odor of alcohol on Garlinger when he had contact with him at the scene of the accident.

On the morning of the crash, at 6:25 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., Claremont police executed a search warrant for seizure of blood samples from Garlinger while he was a patient at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Hathaway said Thursday he has not yet received the results of the blood tests from the state lab.


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