RUTLAND — The crash that killed Drury Morgan on Route 4 in Mendon last month did not involve a hit and run driver, Vermont State Police said Friday.
Almost three weeks after police began looking for a vehicle that reportedly fled the scene after hitting the Mendon woman late in the afternoon of Dec. 28, Sgt. Thomas Mozzer said that further investigation revealed the missing vehicle never struck Morgan.
Police initially believed that two vehicles were involved in the crash — one that struck the 45-year-old woman and then fled while the other, a Honda CR-V driven by Joseph Ferrara, 50, of Huntington Station, N.Y., hit Morgan but stopped to await the arrival of police.
Morgan died at the scene just south of the Cortina Inn.
Ferrara, initially believed to be the only witness to the crash, told police that a dark-colored hatchback was the first vehicle to strike Morgan. Ferrara, who said he was following the hatchback east on the three-lane highway, told police that the hatchback fled the scene while he pulled to the side to call for help.
But following a review of the half-dozen 911 calls from the incident, Mozzer said police realized that the driver of the hatchback also stopped on the side of Route 4 a few hundred feet east of where Ferrara stopped, and the Massachusetts woman behind the wheel of that car also called for help.
When police tracked the woman down and examined the vehicle, they found no damage or repairs that would indicate the car was involved in the crash. In interviews with police, the woman said she managed to avoid hitting Morgan.
“She said she saw (Morgan) in the middle of her lane and she swerved into the passing lane and then into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting her,” Mozzer said. “She said she saw (Morgan) turn around and try to get out of traffic by running back to the side of the road and that’s when she was struck by the second car.”
The identity of the woman who drove the hatchback wasn’t immediately available Friday.
While some of the woman’s account contradicts statements made by Ferrara, Mozzer said police don’t doubt her story.
“We think (Ferrara) was so distraught he didn’t see her stop,” Mozzer said. “There’s no indication whatsoever that her car struck (Morgan).”
In the 911 call made by the driver of the hatchback, the woman can be heard saying that she’s “pretty sure” that a woman was hit by a car and that she could “see her lying in the road,” Mozzer said.
In the tape of Ferrara’s emergency call, he said he struck a woman who was in the road and that he “thinks the vehicle in front of him brushed up against her,” Mozzer said.
“His mind probably wasn’t all there at that time. He was pretty distraught,” the sergeant added.
Mozzer said information about the hatchback driver’s call to 911 took time to discover because she wasn’t the primary caller and, like the other people who called for help, she left the scene before police arrived.
“We only found it after we researched the calls,” Mozzer said.
Lt. Charles Cacciatore, who commands the state police barracks in Rutland, said the woman broke no laws by leaving the scene after calling police.
Police had said before that no charges would be filed against Ferrara and that assessment didn’t change when police concluded that his vehicle was the only one to hit Morgan.
“Based on the road conditions, poor visibility and dark clothing she was wearing, it doesn’t appear that any charges will be brought, although that’s ultimately up the to state’s attorney,” Mozzer said. “There was nothing to indicate negligent operation or criminal activity. It was just an unfortunate circumstance.”
Rutland County State’s Attorney Marc Brierre said Friday that his office had not received the final report from state police.
Told Friday about the police findings, Morgan’s boyfriend, Andy Blanchard, said he was relieved to hear there wasn’t a second driver who was unaccounted for.
“Thinking that two cars hit her has been driving me nuts,” Blanchard said. “The thought that someone would hit her and just leave her there was giving me nightmares. It’s a relief to know that wasn’t the case and it gives me some closure.”
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