MASSENA - A 24-year-old Potsdam woman was sent back to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail continued at $2,500 cash, following Monday afternoon’s preliminary hearing on a felony charge of driving while ability impaired by drugs/alcohol count.
Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall ruled enough evidence had been presented at the hearing to hold the case against Kirsten L. Garner of 24 Waverly St., Potsdam, over for superior court action. Mr. Crandall also ordered the probation department to have Garner evaluated for substance abuse issues.
Village police had charged Garner with the felony DWAI under Leandra’s Law. Her 10-month-old daughter was in her vehicle when she was involved in two accidents reported within 10 minutes of each other Thursday night.
She was also charged with a felony count of third-degree criminal mischief after allegedly striking a Massena Electric Department utility pole in front of the Pease & Gustafson law offices on Main Street and Andrews Street. The sheared off telephone pole damaged a flower pot and a tree after the crash at 11:10 p.m.
Minutes later, her vehicle struck a guide rail on state Route 56 in the town of Louisville, and her 2008 RAV 4 burst into flames.
Village police also charged Garner with two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after a Lyrica pill and a spoon containing a white substance that reportedly tested positive for heroin, were located in her purse. She was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree reckless endangerment.
Village police ticketed Garner for failure to keep right, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and driving across hazardous markings.
Massena-based state police additionally charged Garner with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, driving on the shoulder of a limited access highway, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and failure to use the designated lane following their investigation into the Route 56 accident reported at approximately 11:20 p.m.
Massena Village Police Ptl. Travis P. MacDonald was the prosecution’s sole witness at the preliminary hearing.
He had noted in his statement that village police had received a report of the accident at 11:12 p.m. Thursday on Main Street. He said a review of a surveillance camera in the downtown corridor showed a light-colored RAV 4 traveling southbound on Main strike the utility pole, back up and then continue driving southbound on Main Street.
He said police learned the vehicle had taken a right-hand turn at state Route 37. He said he took Andrews Street to Route 37 and observed liquid that had been sprayed on the roadway on Route 37 onto Route 56.
“I followed this liquid down a couple of miles on state Route 56, where I then observed this same vehicle involved in another accident to the right side of the road and engulfed in flames,” Ptl. MacDonald said in his statement, noting he saw a woman holding an infant approximately 10 feet behind the burning SUV.
“Garner stated she was coming from a friend’s house near Violi’s Restaurant (and) was driving home.”