Laura Dean Mooney, advocate and former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, dies at age 59

Laura Dean Mooney, an advocate for supporting first responders and a former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, died Thursday night at the age of 59, according to the city of College Station. Mooney was the wife of College Station Mayor Karl Mooney.

Mooney was a member of the Texas A&M University class of 1982 and worked as a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. She served as president of the national Mothers Against Drunk Driving association from 2008 to 2011.

“Mrs. Mooney was a tireless and selfless advocate for many worthy causes and devoted countless hours in service to her community, state and nation,” a city release stated Friday morning. “The heartfelt prayers and condolences of the entire city organization are with Mayor Mooney and his family.”

Robert Wunderlich, head of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, described Mooney on Friday as “a tireless and cheerful worker” and praised her engagement in community activities. Mooney worked in TTI’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies.

“She wanted to make the world a better place, and that was so evident in the work that she did with us,” Wunderlich said. “We will honor her legacy by reaffirming her passion for those transportation safety issues.”  

MADD released a statement Friday morning that called Mooney a “fierce and tireless advocate for tougher drunk driving laws, law enforcement and the victims of impaired driving,” something that stemmed from her response to tragic loss. Her husband, Mike Dean, was killed by a drunken driver in 1991, just eight months after their daughter, Tara, was born.

“My husband was killed for no reason, and my daughter was fatherless,” Mooney said in 2008, just after her election as MADD president and 15 years after first joining MADD as a volunteer. “There wasn’t Thanksgiving that year. My daughter’s life, my life, and that of all the families involved changed forever. Fortunately, I decided to do something about this horrific event by trying to prevent others from suffering the same kind of pain. MADD makes the roads safer, and I wanted to be part of that.”

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 at Hillier Funeral Home of College Station. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at Grace Bible Church in College Station, followed by graveside services at 1 p.m. in Oaklawn Cemetery in Somerville.

At the request of Mayor Mooney, a fund is being established at the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley to honor the legacy of Laura Mooney. Memorial contributions should be made payable to: CFBV — Laura Mooney Fund benefiting Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Checks should be mailed to: Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley P.O. Box 2622 Bryan, TX 77805-2622.

Driver faces DUI charges after head-on crash with ambulance

A woman faces driving under the influence charges after a head-on crash Thursday involving an ambulance in Weymouth. 

The crash happened at about 5:45 p.m. on Bridge Street. That ambulance was bound for another crash moments earlier, which prosecutors said the suspect was involved in prior to leaving the scene. 

Two ambulance attendants and the driver of the car were taken to South Shore Hospital, Weymouth Deputy Fire Chief Richard Chase said. 

Carolyn Davis

Carolyn Davis

Carolyn Davis, 41, of North Weymouth, faced several charges, including operating under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of a crash and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Prosecutors said Davis reported having drank five rum and cokes but had nothing to eat all day. 

She was arraigned in her hospital bed Friday afternoon, and a judge set bail at $7,500. 

The victim of the first crash was taken to the hospital for neck and back pain.

There were no patients in the ambulance, Chase said.

Lawmakers weigh changing DWI laws to allow sleeping in cars

Long exposure to capture the full array of police car lights. 12MP camera.

As temperatures drop, state lawmakers are considering changing the laws around one unfortunate approach to a heavy night out: sleeping in a car.

A bill passed by the Senate would carve out exceptions to New Hampshire’s driving while intoxicated laws to allow people who have drunk above the limit to sleep in their cars. Advocates say it’s a necessary change to prevent those trying to sleep off their intoxication do so without fear of being charged by a passing officer. 

But while the idea has caught on in the state senate, where the bill received unanimous approval, House lawmakers are less sure. Some members of the House Transportation Committee have doled out strong skepticism.    

“I don’t want to be overly melodramatic, but we’re playing with persons’ lives here,” said Rep. George Sykes, the committee chairman, at a work session on Tuesday.

Sykes, a Lebanon Democrat, called the bill “replete with problems,” warning that it would give a green light for intoxicated people to sleep for a short period of time and drive home drunk anyway. And he questioned how widespread the problem is to begin with.

“It’s going to take a long time to convince me that we need to monkey with something that may only be a problem for a very small number of persons.”

Senate Bill 34 would amend the definition of “operating” a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol – adding certain exclusions.

“Driving,” “attempting to drive,” or “actual physical control” would not include anyone who is sleeping or sheltering in their car provided the car was parked lawfully; anyone who didn’t have the “intent to control the vehicle in a manner which could pose a danger to the public”; and anyone sitting in a vehicle that is inoperable.

Under the proposed law, as long as someone doesn’t have the “intent” to drive, a passing police officer can’t arrest and charge them, even if the ignition is on. That allows people to turn on the heat while they attempt to sleep off their alcohol, supporters say. 

To Rep. Steven Smith, a Charlestown Republican and former chairman of the committee, the bill would allow those intoxicated to do the right thing without being penalized.

“If they want to go in their car and sleep it off, don’t be behind the wheel,” Smith said. “Be in the back seat, be in the passenger seat. I would think that if I did that, and climbed into the back seat of my car or a pickup truck without a pass-through, I would have established that I did not mean to attempt to drive. And for doing that, I don’t think they should be arresting people.” 

But opponents – who include the New Hampshire Department of Safety, the Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Association – say that that may be an overly rosy scenario.

Rep. Larry Gagne, a Manchester Republican, painted another one. 

“It puts the onus on the beat cop, out there, three o’clock in the morning in Manchester, windows are cracked and motor’s running, person’s in the back seat. You wake them up: ‘No, no I don’t want to drive, I just wanted to keep warm.’ So it’s on you to make a decision.”

The consequences could be too dear, Gagne added. 

“What happens if you let him go? And that person decides ‘I’m good enough to drive.’ That person takes off and gets into an accident. Hits a telephone pole. And that’s on you. Because you let him go,” Gagne said.

Some on the committee argued the burden should be on the person going out to drink to arrange a better backup scenario, whether through a friend or a cab service. 

Others say more information is needed before the committee can take action. Rep. Nicole Klein-Knight, a freshman Democrat from Manchester, said she wanted to see statistics indicating how many people are arrested for driving while intoxicated despite the vehicle being stationary. 

Existing statistics on DWI convictions in recent years have shown a decline, Klein-Knight said – an indication, she argued, that police officers were not abusing the DWI law. 

“Currently what we’re seeing is a decrease in DUIs – there’s no reason to muck that up with a poorly written law that could increase DUIs, she said. 

Not all Democrats are opposed; Laconia Rep. Charlie St. Clair strongly supports the proposed overhaul.

“Somebody gets in their vehicle, and says, whatever the reason, maybe I’m tired, maybe I think I’ve had too much to drink, whatever, I’m going to be responsible now and sit in my car,” St. Clair said. “If we can craft this to say, you can sit in your car but not behind the driver’s seat, I think they’re showing the responsibility saying ‘I know the law, I’m not going to sit behind the steering wheel’… That should cut it.”

But overall, the political path for the bill looked steep Tuesday. 

“The bill as it’s currently written is something I could never support,” Sykes said. “It’s badly written; it won’t do what it wants to do.”

The political divide fits into a familiar dynamic between the House and Senate. Last year, a similar bill, Senate Bill 499, cleared the Republican Senate 20-4 only to be killed in the Republican House 209-122.

Lawmakers in the committee are working to tweak the language of the bill before making a final decision and passing it to the full House next year.

Second chance not enough

Police: Woman found asleep in car later stopped for drunk driving

Second chance not enough
Maria Henderson

ROLLING PRAIRIE – A deputy allowed a Gary woman to wait for a ride after finding her asleep and intoxicated in her car at a gas station, but she didn’t take advantage and was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated a short time later, according to police.

Maria Henderson, 37, now faces a felony charge of OWI with a previous conviction; misdemeanor counts of OWI over .15 BAC, and resisting law enforcement; and several citations, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department and court records.

About 4:30 p.m. Saturday, a deputy was called to the Family Express at 4093 E. U.S. 20 near Rolling Prairie to check on a vehicle parked in front for about an hour with a person sleeping inside, a report from the sheriff’s department said.

The vehicle was not running and Henderson was behind the wheel, the report said. The deputy saw what appeared to be beer bottles on the floorboard, the report said, and the woman “appeared to be waking up” and was “obviously confused and slow to become oriented.” She had a strong smell of an alcoholic beverage about her, but said she had been drinking the previous night, police said.

Asked if she could call for a ride, she said she’d call her employer, Walmart in South Bend, but had lost her cell phone, the report said. The officer offered his phone and the woman called a number and started talking, but the officer noted “she was not actually speaking to anyone” and when he tried the number, found she had not called, but a co-worker could pick her up in a few hours.

A check showed her license suspended, and the officer told her he was afraid she’d try to drive home and cause an accident or get arrested, the report said. She then became argumentative, so the officer left, warning her not to drive.

However, believing she would, he remained in the area and soon saw the vehicle pull out of the station and head east on Michigan Street, going 56 mph in a 20 mph zone near Rolling Prairie Elementary School, the report said. She cut the sharp turn too close and ended up with half her car in the wrong lane, the report said.

After pulling the car over, a struggle ensued when the officer asked her to get out, but he eventually got her out, and her “demeanor went from crying, to begging for me to let her go, to abusive and calling me an ‘a–hole’ repeatedly,” the officer wrote.

She was taken to La Porte Hospital for medical clearance, where an ER blood draw showed a blood alcohol content of .28 percent, and a followup draw showed a BAC of .258, the report said.

She was taken to the La Porte County Jail, where it was found she’d had an OWI conviction in September 2018 in Lake County, two previous OWI convictions, and a pending OWI case in Porter County.

She was scheduled to appear in Superior Court 4 on Monday, but court information was not immediately available.

A first for Hoboken: Man is charged with scooter DWI

Electric scooters in Hoboken, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (Reena Rose Sibayan | The Jersey Journal)

Veteran Hoboken police officers have seen it all over the years — until Sunday.

For the first time in the city’s history, a man was charged with driving while intoxicated on an electric scooter, Hoboken police said.

Nicholas Cutrone, 26, of Hoboken, was arrested at 4:08 p.m. after he tried to ride away from police officers who saw him “visibly unsteady and staggering” while unlocking a scooter in the area of Newark Street and Park Avenue.

The electric scooters, which travel up to 18 miles per hour, were introduced in the city in May. While the program has been popular, many residents are concerned about pedestrian safety and enforcement of the scooter rules of the road.

Cutrone was charged with DWI, reckless driving and refusal to submit to breath samples, Sgt. Jonathan Mecka said.

Sgt. Nicholas Burke tried to stop Cutrone from getting on the scooter, but the 26-year-old rode away. Burke followed in a cruiser and watched as Cutrone was swayed back and forth as if he was going to lose control at any moment, Mecka said.

Cutrone stopped a block away and he failed a field sobriety test administered by Police Officer Edward Lepre, Mecka said. While at headquarters, Cutrone refused to provide breath samples.

Man impaired in accident that killed motorcyclist

FRANKTON — Sheriff’s deputies have arrested an Anderson man three months after he was involved in a head-on collision in which a motorcyclist later died of injuries.

Daniel A. Ellis, 35, of Anderson, is charged with Level 4 felony causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance.

Ellis struck a motorcycle driven by Danny Kinser, 65, of Anderson, on July 1. Kinser was airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis where he later died from his injuries, according to an affidavit of probable cause Caitlin Foster-Morency of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies were able to determine that the 1997 Ford Windstar, driven by Ellis, was traveling south on County Road 600 West when it crossed the center line and struck Kinser who was riding a 2013 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

“The evidence at the scene shows the van was 100% left of center and operating entirely in the northbound lane while traveling southbound,” Foster-Morency wrote in the affidavit.

Ellis told deputies he had fallen asleep prior to the accident and at first he agreed for his blood to be drawn for chemical testing while he was at the hospital. He later changed his mind and a warrant for a blood sample was obtained.

When questioned, Ellis said he got off work in Tipton and was on his way home and falling asleep.

“He told me when he fell asleep the last time, he came to, he was in the process of getting in a wreck with the other vehicle,” Foster-Morency wrote.

While being questioned, Ellis would not open his eyes saying he was afraid there was still glass on his face from the accident and he told the deputy he was unable to get out of bed to perform a field sobriety test.

Ellis told the sheriff’s deputy he was driving two different types of vehicles before naming the correct vehicle he was driving at the time of the accident.

“It appeared as if Daniel was falling asleep while speaking to me,” Foster-Morency wrote in her affidavit. “During his audio recorded statement and after it, he appeared to be falling asleep mid-sentence and several times was snoring mid-conversation.”

Lab results from the blood draw found amphetamine and methamphetamine, both schedule II controlled substances present in Ellis’ blood sample, Foster-Morency wrote in the affidavit. THC, a schedule I controlled substance, and Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, were also identified in the blood sample.

Kinser was a truck driver for Gleaner’s Food Bank for five years before his retirement in 2017, according to an obituary by Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Service.

He is survived by his father, wife, four daughters, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

WWE: Inside Jeff Hardy’s Messy Legal History

WWE wrestler and one half of the Hardy Boyz, Jeff Hardy, was arrested last week for driving while impaired. This incident took place in Moore County, North Carolina, and was the latest in a line of incidents involving the longtime professional wrestler.

When news of this arrest came to light, there were immediate cries for WWE to step in and convince Hardy to go to rehab. So far, this has not happened, but many fans have a hope that Hardy will make strides in his personal life and will avoid a tragic incident.

The reason for their considerable concern is that Hardy has made headlines multiple times in the past for incidents involving legal and illegal substances. He has been arrested for driving while impaired, barred from flying out of Nashville, and charged with drug trafficking.

Per @PWInsidercom, Jeff Hardy was arrested in North Carolina yesterday and charged with driving while impaired

View image on Twitter

This incident in North Carolina did not result in any injuries, but that fact did not change the tone of messages on social media. Some WWE fans want Hardy out of wrestling while others simply want him to get the help he needs.

In his life, Hardy has had many run-ins with law enforcement, but which was the most worrisome for his family? Let’s go through Hardy’s history of legal problems.SLIDE 1 of 6

With the news of Jeff Hardy’s arrest, many wrestling fans became frustrated. This was not an isolated incident considering that one half of the Hardy Boyz has been in trouble with the law throughout his career, often for similar issues. 

At this point, WWE fans want Hardy to get some help. Being arrested is one thing, but there is a far more dire outcome that could become possible with repeated instances of driving under the influence. SLIDE 2 of 6

Remember when CM Punk was a dastardly heel for accusing Jeff Hardy of being a drug-addled, unreliable burnout?

View image on Twitter

In 2003, Jeff Hardy saw his time with WWE come to an end. He was given an ultimatum in which he either had to go to rehab or lose his job. According to former backstage official Bruce Prichard, the wrestler knew that he had a drug problem but didn’t want to go to rehab. 

Ultimately, WWE cut ties with Hardy, putting the Hardy Boyz on the shelf. Although he did make an eventual return in 2006 after three years away. SLIDE 3 of 6

In 2008, Jeff Hardy was involved in an incident at the Nashville International Airport. At the time, there were rumors that he had been arrested for carrying drugs, but the professional wrestler shed some light on the incident during an interview. 

“So many wrestlers drink at times and I had been drinking a lot that night,” Hardy said in 2008. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve been on planes a lot drunker than that. There was nothing rude done; I wasn’t violent or anything like that.

“I guess I was stumbling boarding the plane or something and somebody must have just said that I was drunk because I was asleep on the plane. This is Southwest, you know, open seating and everything.

The first thing I remember is just waking up and security — it wasn’t police, it was security — saying, ‘Mr. Hardy, you have to get off the plane. We feel you’ve had too much to drink.’ Matt [Hardy] got up and was like, ‘What’s the problem?’ They were like, ‘He’s had too much to drink.’ I go, ‘I was asleep. I’ll wake up in Raleigh. I’ve been like this before.’ But I just cooperated and left the plane.”SLIDE 4 of 6

In September 2009, Hardy was arrested on three separate charges of drug trafficking. During a search of his house, officials found 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a residual amount of cocaine, and drug paraphernalia.

According to Bleacher ReportHardy couldn’t technically be charged with drug trafficking due to him being in possession of the substances that were delivered with his mail. After two years of delays, Hardy accepted a plea deal in which he had to plead guilty on three charges. SLIDE 5 of 6

Jeff Hardy was arrested for driving while impaired, but was released 1 hour afterwards in Cabarass County

View image on Twitter

The arrest in North Carolina from Thursday has been dominating the conversation recently, but this is not the only situation involving alcohol and vehicles for which Hardy is known. He was also arrested in March 2018 for driving while impaired. 

According to the report, Hardy was arrested shortly after 10 p.m. on March 10 but was released an hour later. His bond was set at zero dollars. SLIDE 6 of 6

#WWE Superstar Jeff Hardy has been arrested for public intoxication and impairment in Myrtle Beach.

View image on Twitter

In July 2019, Jeff Hardy had another run-in with the law, this time in South Carolina. The wrestler was in Myrtle Beach and was arrested for public intoxication. Little details were known at the time beyond that he was later released on less than $200 bond. 

TMZ did later obtain a police report that provided some details about the arrest. Hardy was reportedly found passed out in a stairwell. He admitted to drinking vodka and was arrested on misdemeanor charges.

Court: Driving drunk on riding mower same as a vehicle

riding mower generic

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled that operating a riding mower while drunk carries the same penalties as driving a car while intoxicated.

The ruling Tuesday came in the case of a northern Wisconsin man who was arrested for drunken driving in 2017. Police pulled Keith Shoeder over while he was operating a riding mower on the streets of Rhinelander after leaving a tavern.

Shoeder appealed his convicted of fourth offense drunken driving.

Shoeder argued that the charge should be dismissed, contending the riding mower was an all-terrain vehicle and not a motor vehicle and therefore he was not subject to the same penalties.

But the 3rd District Court of Appeals disagreed. It upheld an Oneida County Circuit Court ruling, saying a riding mower is a motor, not an all-terrain, vehicle.

Head of legislature’s public safety committee charged with DUI, suspended from co-chair role

State Rep. Joe Verrengia listens to testimony at a legislative hearing in January.
State Rep. Joe Verrengia listens to testimony at a legislative hearing in January. (Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant)

Police Wednesday lodged a driving under the influence charge against Democratic state Rep. Joe Verrengia, a retired police officer in his hometown of West Hartford who is co-chair of the General Assembly’s public safety committee.

That committee oversees police-related matters as well as legalized gambling, and Verrengia was suspended indefinitely from his co-chair role Thursday afternoon after the arrest was disclosed by West Hartford police in a press release.

“Rep. Verrengia recognizes the seriousness of the situation, but the fact remains he made a poor decision that put people at risk,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said in an emailed statement. “Though thankfully no one was hurt, in light of these circumstances and as he deals with the legal and personal ramifications, I have suspended Rep. Verrengia from his chairmanship of the public safety committee.”

West Hartford police said Thursday that on Wednesday at 4:57 p.m., they received three 911 calls about a vehicle stopped in a travel lane on New Park Avenue, with the driver apparently asleep at the wheel. The car resumed traveling south, but the callers by then had provided a description of the driver, the vehicle and license plate, which was registered to the home address of Verrengia on Colonial Street in West Hartford. Police in the area saw Verrengia park there and get out of the car. After investigating, the police charged him driving under the influence of alcohol

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Reached Thursday afternoon, Verrengia, 55, said he was declining to comment on the advice of his attorney.

Woman charged with DUI for 2018 crash into house

Yajaira Gallaga was able to walk away from the crash and went to a nearby home for help, authorities said.By Luke Wilusz  Oct 1, 2019, 10:58am CDT

A woman is facing DUI charges for a Dec. 29, 2018, crash that sent a car flying into a home in the 10000 block of West Yorkhouse Road in Beach Park.
A woman is facing DUI charges for a Dec. 29, 2018, crash that sent a car flying into a home in the 10000 block of West Yorkhouse Road in Beach Park.

A woman was charged with DUI for a crash that sent a car into a house last year in north suburban Beach Park.

Yajaira Gallaga, 20, was arrested Monday at her Beach Park home and charged with five misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs for the Dec. 29, 2018 crash, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office.

Yajaira Gallaga
Yajaira Gallaga

Deputies were dispatched about 1 a.m. and found a 2007 Chrysler Sebring inside a home in the 10000 block of West Yorkhouse Road, the sheriff’s office said. Gallaga was eastbound on Yorkhouse when she lost control and hit the unoccupied home.

She was able to walk away from the crash and went to a nearby home for help, authorities said. She was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The house was deemed uninhabitable because of the extensive damage caused by the crash, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gallaga remains held at the Lake County Jail on $25,000 bail, the sheriff’s office said. She is expected to appear in court Tuesday.