Commonwealth’s Attorney involved in distracted driving accident

Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff was charged with failure to stay right of center after he swerved on Rudasill Mill Road last Wednesday (Feb. 10) and hit an oncoming car driven by Daphne Hutchinson of Washington. He apparently dropped something inside his pickup truck, leaned over to retrieve it, and crossed over the centerline of the two-lane road.

According to the summons filed by State Trooper P. A. Thomas, the accident occurred at 9:35 a.m. a half-mile west of Rock Mills Road near the intersection of Rudasill Mill and Shade Lane. Weather was clear and speed was not a factor in the accident.

In a phone interview, Hutchinson, a former editor and now contributor to the Rappahannock News, described the accident as happening in a split second. When she saw Goff’s truck swerve into her lane, she moved as far right as she could, but was knocked off the road by the collision. “I missed a tree,” she said, “and went up an embankment with snow. It was cushioned. I plowed through mud all the way.” Her vehicle’s air bag deployed. Hutchinson was wearing her seatbelt.

After getting out of her car, she flagged down another driver who gave her and Goff a ride to Shaw’s garage in Sperryville. There they called the state police and were driven back to the scene by a tow truck driver.

Hutchinson’s car sustained substantial damage. Damage to Goff’s vehicle is unknown. He did not return a phone call for comment.

A friend of Hutchinson’s drove her home, where her daughter insisted she go to the emergency room to be checked out. After a CT scan, EKG, blood work and a chest X-ray, she was sent home.

She said Goff was profusely apologetic. “He never stopped saying he was sorry. During the whole experience, he was a stand-up guy, a gentleman, and kind.”

District Court: Hunting violations the main feature

In Rappahannock District Court on Tuesday (Feb. 16), a spate of hunting-related misdemeanors distinguished the morning‘s docket.

Daniel Bednarski, 54, of Amissville on Oct. 14, 2015, was charged with two misdemeanors: unlawfully killing a bear and unlawfully hunting and possessing a wild animal. His case was continued to April 19.

Gary Dinges, Jr., 40, of Stanley, pleaded guilty to taking wildlife during closed season and hunting without wearing blaze orange clothing, both misdemeanors. He was ordered to pay $125 in fines.

Steve Mallory, 54, of Castleton racked up five misdemeanors on Nov. 19, 2015: hunting/trapping/fishing without a license, violating earn-a-buck regulations, hunting deer without a deer license, and two instances of failing to check deer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. All charges were waived upon payment of a total of $270 in fines.

Kristi Anne Maher, 48, of Downers Grove, Ill., pleaded guilty to a first charge of DWI. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 85 days suspended. Her license was suspended for 12 months. She must complete the state’s alcohol awareness program, VASAP, and pay a $250 fine.

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