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Driver charged in deadly crash with bicyclist in Farmington

Foster’s Daily Democrat: Driver charged in deadly crash with bicyclist in Farmington

By Joey Cresta
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FARMINGTON — A local man has been charged with driving while intoxicated when he struck and killed a teenage bicyclist on Bay Road in October 2009.

Sgt. Jay Drury said Monday that Brian J. Babicki, 25, of Bay Road, was in an impaired state when the Ford 350 van he was driving struck a bicycle operated by Matthew Laughton, 17, on Bay Road at around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Laughton died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Babicki had alcohol in his system, but his blood-alcohol content was below the legal limit of .08, Drury said. The police investigation revealed Babicki was also allegedly under the influence of marijuana when the accident occurred. Police say the combination of drugs and alcohol put Babicki in an impaired state that contributed to the crash.

Police arrested Babicki on Monday and charged him with misdemeanors of DWI, vehicular assault and operating a vehicle with a false inspection sticker. Drury said police also levied him with a variety of motor vehicle violations because the van did not have a bumper, was uninspected and had a problem with its brakes.

"One brake didn’t work properly," he said. Police looked at the braking system and the overall condition of the van during the investigation, he said.

Drury called the entire investigation "very extensive." He said "a lot of facets" came into play and "an incredible amount of detail" went into the police reports.

On Jan. 15, authorities presented Babicki’s case to a Strafford County grand jury in an attempt to secure an indictment on felony charges, Drury said. After they were unsuccessful, police chose to charge Babicki with lesser misdemeanor counts.

"We’re unable at this time to go forward" with felony charges, Drury said. Felony charges could still be filed in the future if more information becomes available for a grand jury to consider, he said.

Since the possibility remains that authorities could present new information to a grand jury in the future, Drury declined to discuss more specific details about how the accident occurred.

County Attorney Thomas Velardi also declined to comment on the case, citing a restriction on releasing information presented at grand jury sessions. He said his office will continue to work with Farmington Police on the case.

The accident occurred after Babicki swerved to avoid striking another 17-year-old bicyclist who was traveling with Laughton. There were no street lights in the area of the accident and Drury said Laughton and the other teen wore dark, nonreflective clothing and their bikes had minimal reflectors on them.

Police also met with Laughton’s family Monday to make them aware of the current situation, Drury said. While he could not speak for the family’s feelings, he said they appeared disappointed that authorities are unable to secure an indictment at this time.

Laughton’s death shook the Farmington community. On the Friday night following his passing, hundreds of students and well-wishers gathered at the flagpole outside Farmington High School to hold a candlelight vigil for the teen.

Babicki was released on personal recognizance bail and is scheduled for arraignment on March 2.