Vermont Man Pleads Not Guilty in Crash That Sparked Fire

November 13, 2008

A passenger involved in a car accident that triggered a huge building fire in Vermont says the driver had been drinking and driving fast before the crash.

Gabrielle Perez told police her boyfriend, Robert Dragon III, 18, had been drinking before he arrived at her home Nov. 2 and forced her into his Ford Explorer.

About 90 minutes later, the vehicle crashed into the Williams Block, igniting a fire that did an estimated $500,000 damage to the building. Dragon suffered a fractured skull, fractured shoulder and cuts and bruises.

Perez, 20, of Morrisville, sustained a broken arm, a concussion and a black eye.

She told police Sgt. James Dziobek that Dragon told her he had consumed a half-bottle of tequila and other alcoholic beverages and that he threw her over his shoulder and carried her to the vehicle after she said she wouldn’t go with him.

Perez said the vehicle _ which was uninsured _ reached speeds of 90 miles per hour and that its tires squealed when it rounded corners.

Dragon had bought it less than a month ago, and its brakes needed repair, she told police.

Dragon, whose license was suspended for driving without insurance, pleaded not guilty Monday to grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle, excessive speed, reckless endangerment and consumption of alcohol by a minor.

A test several hours later showed Dragon’s blood-alcohol level to be about .039 percent, according to Dziobek.

He was released on conditions after his arraignment, including that he not drive a car unless licensed and that he not possess alcohol.


Information from: The Caledonian-Record

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