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Mental health centre says it wasn't contacted before crashes

October 18, 2016 - 3:26 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. - A community mental health agency disputes a police account that someone contacted it before a man drove the wrong way on a Vermont interstate, causing crashes that killed five teens and injured several others.

Police said Steven Bourgoin, the man charged in the crashes, visited a hospital three times hours before the crashes, and a mental health centre was called but didn't screen him. The account is in a statement from a state trooper who investigated the crashes.

The statement does not say who contacted Howard Center, however, the centre said it was never contacted to evaluate, assess, or screen Bourgoin the day of the crash or any time before.

Bourgoin also was not referred to Howard Center by any organization, the mental health agency said.

Police say Bourgoin, 36, crashed into the teens' car on Interstate 89 in Williston and then stole a police cruiser before crashing it into at least seven other vehicles. He was critically injured in the crashes. He pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts of second-degree murder and remained hospitalized Monday in good condition.

Chittenden County State's attorney TJ Donovan would not say whether Bourgoin was trying to kill himself but has said he would not classify the crashes as accidents.

Donovan, who is on Howard Center's board, said Tuesday that the state trooper's statement reflects what the trooper believes he was told.

The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, said it recognizes that the statement raises questions about the driver's contacts with the hospital and said it's co-operating with the investigation. The hospital cited privacy laws that prevent it from disclosing patient information to the public without the patient's authorization.

The hospital in some cases may suggest a patient contact Howard Center, or the hospital might talk directly to the centre about the next steps, said spokesman Mike Noble. The hospital also has its own inpatient psychiatric unit, he said.

Bourgoin's attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.


This story has been corrected to show the Howard Center says no one contacted it before the crashes, not after the crashes.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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