On May 29, 2024
Local News

Report shows trooper driving 88 mph before crash into fire truck, and up to 86 mph at impact

Courtesy of VSP - State Police Cpl. Eric Vitali.

By Alan J. Keays/VTDigger

The cruiser Vermont State Police Cpl. Eric Vitali was driving when he crashed into a parked fire truck on Interstate 89 in March was traveling at 88 mph just before the crash and between 79 mph and 86 mph at impact.

That’s according to a standard crash report submitted by the Vermont State Police (VSP) to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and obtained Wednesday, May 22.

Vitali, a 19-year state police veteran who was 41 at the time of the crash, was seriously injured in the collision and is now undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation facility for a “severe traumatic brain injury,” according to the Vermont Troopers’ Association. 

Vitali was driving his police cruiser, a 2023 Ford Explorer SUV in the passing lane of Interstate 89 on the morning of March 8 when his cruiser struck the rear of an unoccupied Bethel Volunteer Fire Dept. tanker truck near the Bethel/Royalton exit.

The truck was parked on the interstate to provide scene protection for a crash that took place there about an hour earlier.

The 36-page crash report, dated April 5, does not answer the question of why Vitali did not see the fire truck stopped on the interstate, saying that element “remains under investigation.” 

Vitali’s name is redacted in parts of the report, and in others he is referred to as “Operator 1.”

The unoccupied fire truck’s emergency lights were activated and there were three road flares behind the vehicle, the report stated. 

“Due to the fact there was both braking and steering data, it is unlikely that Operator 1 fell asleep, or lost consciousness, prior to the collision,” the report stated.

The VSP Technology Investigation Unit also analyzed Vitali’s department-issued cellphone and computer and “found no user activity leading up to, or at the time, of the crash on either device,” the report stated. 

State police obtained a search warrant for Vitali’s personal cellphone, which was being sent to the National Computer Forensics Institute’s lab, according to the report. The facility specializes in examining damaged cellphones. 

Investigators also obtained a search warrant, which was sent to Verizon, for the cellphone’s records, the report stated. “The result of that search warrant will be documented by a supplemental report once received,” according to the report.

Investigators calculated the cruiser’s speeds based on their analysis of its “pre-crash data,” according to the report.

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