The driver of a car who crashed into another vehicle in July, killing a Wolcott teenager, was going at least 80 mph — 30 mph over the speed limit — and had opioids and anti-anxiety medicine in his bloodstream, police allege.
Colby Costello, 26, of Wolcott pleaded not guilty in Lamoille County Superior Court last Wednesday to a charge of gross negligent driving with death resulting.
On July 20, Costello’s car crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Dexter Thurston, 19, of Wolcott, killing the teenager.
The collision happened on Route 12 just before 10:49 a.m.
Police, in court documents, said they think Costello was impaired from drugs, was speeding, and was looking down at his cellphone when he crossed the highway’s center line.
A toxicology report received Aug. 3 showed signs of alprazolam, also known as Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, as well as buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, in Costello’s blood. Suboxone is an opioid that Costello told police he had taken a few hours prior to the crash.
According to police, Costello’s speedometer locked at the point of contact, and showed he was driving 81-82 mph in the 50-mph zone.
Police also noted that one of the tires on Costello’s car was a studded snow tire, while the other three were all-season.
Thurston was dating his young passenger’s sister, and the two had been making plans to move to Florida in the coming months, where Thurston was planning to attend college.
Witnesses told police that Thurston and his girlfriend’s brother had been playing video games for an hour or so and were headed a mile up the road to the Elmore Store to buy a carton of milk. The crash happened about one-third of the way there.
A man living on Camp Road — which runs parallel to Route 12, between it and Lake Elmore — was sitting on his camp porch and saw Costello’s car flip, and one of the tires rolled down the bank and ended up nearly in front of his camp. Another witness who was paddling on the lake heard the crash.
A driver headed toward Morrisville from Barre was the first upon the scene, and tried to call 911 and use OnStar, but said neither worked, since there was no cellular reception. Thurston’s passenger got into her car, and asked to be taken to the hospital.
Costello was allowed to leave after his arraignment, with court-ordered conditions. Among them is a prohibition on driving any type of vehicle.
Lamoille County State’s Attorney Paul Finnerty, in prosecuting Costello’s criminal case, said he thinks “a lot of people were upset that he wasn’t immediately taken to jail” after his arraignment. But he said the “risk area” in Costello’s case comes from when he’s behind the wheel.
Said Finnerty, “We separate him from driving, and we separate the risk.”