By Eric Francis
HARTFORD – Two brothers were nearly killed and their young teenage nephew was also hurt early Saturday morning when they crashed their car off Route 14 just west of Hartford Village following an apparent deer jacking in Norwich.
Benjamin Brower, 26, of Colchester was upgraded from critical to serious condition by midweek and Kristofer Brower, 29, of Hartford went from critical clear to satisfactory but also remained in the Intensive Care Unit at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. The pair’s 13-year-old nephew from Graniteville, whose name was not released, was also treated at DHMC but he was released later during the day on Saturday.
The incident began around midnight on Friday when police in Norwich and Hartford were radioed a “be on the lookout” for a blue Toyota Celica that had been spotted jacking a deer up on Podunk Road near the town line.
Right at 1 a.m., Hartford Police Sgt. David Reagan spotted the vehicle as it headed past him going east on Route 14. “I turned around on it and he took off,” Reagan recalled, adding that given the sleet soaked pavement at that hour there was no way he was going to initiate a dangerous pursuit. “I was going to let him go,” Reagan said.
Heading back east toward the village, Reagan rounded a couple of curves and then spotted the overturned Celica where it had rocketed off the roadway, sliced through a guide wire holding up a telephone pole and sailed into the woods not far from J.A.S. Autobody.
Benjamin, the driver, had been ejected during the crash and was lying in a water-filled depression with what turned out to be multiple skull fractures but the immediate priority was simply the risk of drowning, Reagan recalled.
Sgt. Reagan pulled Benjamin to safety but could get access to the other two occupants who were trapped inside the wrecked hatchback which was now sitting on top of a good-sized deer which had bullet holes in it.
Radioing for help, Reagan requested the Hartford Fire Department and three ambulances from Hartford and neighboring Lebanon.
By 1:30 a.m. everyone had been freed from the vehicle and was headed to the hospital.
Police said that speed was clearly a factor in the crash and there was evidence that at least one of the brothers had been drinking substantially prior to the wreck which led authorities to request that blood be drawn at the hospital to further possible DUI charges.
Almost exactly a year ago, Kristofer Brower, who listed his address as North Hartland at the time, pled guilty to possession of marijuana and was ordered to pay fines and surcharges totaling $371 following a traffic stop for failing to use a turn signal just before noon on November 6th,
2010. Hartford Police Officer Mark McComas said that when he walked up to talk to Brower at the intersection of the V.A. Cutoff Road and Old River Road near Hartford Village he immediately “saw a Marlin 30-30 rifle in the lap of (Brower’s nephew) in the back seat, behind the driver.” McComas backed away and asked Brower to exit the vehicle and walk back to him. “For fear of other weapons, I conducted a pat down of Brower and felt a hard object in his right front pocket…and discovered it to be a glass marijuana pipe.” After securing the rifle, police searched the car and found a small bag of marijuana in the center console and several paper bags in the trunk containing marijuana that was being dried out in newspapers, approximately 8 grams in all.
This article first appeared in the November 17th edition of the Vermont Standard.