Vt. mayor under investigation following highway rollover

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July 22, 2013, 6:23 pm
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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Barton, Vt.) - A 2012 Toyota Prius, with its destroyed windows, smashed hood, and bent tire rims full of earth and grass, became so mangled because of a wreck on Interstate 91 North in Barton just before 2 a.m. Sunday, Vt. State Police said. The agency is now investigating the details of the crash, which New England Cable News has learned involves the mayor of a Vermont city.

State troopers said in a news release they believe the car flipped several times in the median before landing on its driver's side. That driver, according to NECN sources, was Paul Monette, 51. He is the mayor of Newport, a lakeside city of just over 4,500 in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, near Canada.

Police said Monette was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at North Country Hospital in Newport. Sgt. Sean Selby of the Vt. State Police told NECN a blood sample was taken at the hospital. It could be weeks until chemical tests come back to show if he was drunk, Selby added.

The mayor has not been charged with any crime, but the initial State Police news release said speed and alcohol do appear to have been contributing factors to the crash.

"We as parents need to set the examples for our children. Our city officials, as well," Robert Olmstead of Newport said. "What does that say for our city?"

"It doesn't say a whole for the mayor, obviously, and it sets a poor example for other people here," said Mike Oquendo of Newport.

No one answered the door at Monette's home Monday, and no one returned a phone call placed to him before NECN's Monday deadline. The city of Newport declined comment.

Sgt. Selby said Monette still has a valid driver’s license. Selby noted that the results of those blood tests will help investigators determine if criminal charges are warranted. Again, as of Monday, Mayor Paul Monette had not been charged with any wrongdoing stemming from the highway rollover.

According to their news release, Vt. State Police would like to hear from witnesses to the collision, at 802-334-8881.

Tags: vermont, Barton, Jack Thurston, Paul Monette, Newport Vermont Mayor Paul Monette
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