BRATTLEBORO — A woman accused of causing a crash that killed a young Brattleboro couple last year is scheduled to stand trial in January.
Sarah M. Loos, 27, of Winhall, Vt., faces two charges of grossly negligent operation resulting in death. A trial has been set for the week of Jan. 13 in Vermont Superior Court’s Windham Criminal Division in Brattleboro, according to court records.
Robert J. Lind, 32, and Mandi M. Gamache, 26, died as a result of the crash that occurred the afternoon of June 8, 2018, in Newfane, Vt., according to police. Lind was pronounced dead at the scene, while Gamache died from her injuries a day later at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
The two were engaged, according to Matthew Gamache, Mandi’s father.
On the day of the crash, Lind was driving south on Route 30 with Gamache in the passenger seat when Loos’ Toyota SUV, coming from the opposite direction, crossed the center line and slammed into Lind’s Subaru station wagon, according to police affidavits filed in court.
In one of the affidavits, Vermont State Police Sgt. Robert Zink estimated that Loos was driving around the 50-mile-per-hour speed limit, while Lind slowed from about 40 to about 15 miles per hour in the moments before the crash, likely after he saw the oncoming SUV.
According to Zink’s affidavit, Loos’ vehicle traveled in the wrong lane for more than 200 feet before impact. Lind had less than four seconds to react, Zink calculated.
Meanwhile, according to Zink, vehicle data showed that Loos maintained a speed of close to 50 miles per hour in the seconds before the crash.
“During this crash Loos did not attempt to avoid the collision through braking or steering input,” Zink wrote.
Though police initially cited Loos on a charge of driving under the influence of drugs, in addition to the charges of grossly negligent operation, prosecutors have not pursued the DUI charge, according to court documents.
According to an affidavit written by Vermont State Trooper Max Trenosky, Loos submitted to a preliminary breath test, which did not register any alcohol. Trenosky wrote that Loos told a state trooper she had used marijuana a day earlier, and on the day of the crash had taken an antibiotic and an antiviral medication.
Loos said she had also taken Vicodin, a prescription opioid, and Klonopin, generally used for seizures and panic attacks, but did not remember whether she’d used those medications on the day of the crash, according to the affidavit.
A blood sample taken from Loos later tested positive for morphine, fentanyl and THC, the active compound in marijuana, according to the affidavit.
Someone can test positive for morphine after consuming codeine, morphine or heroin, or after eating poppy seeds on a muffin or bagel, Dr. Robert B. Swotinsky, a Massachusetts-based occupational-medicine consultant and expert in workplace drug testing, told The Sentinel in an interview Monday afternoon.
In general, the presence of morphine and fentanyl could indicate that someone has used heroin laced with fentanyl, he said.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times as potent as morphine and far more deadly, is often mixed into heroin or used instead of it. Fentanyl is involved in the vast majority of fatal drug overdoses in New Hampshire.
Trenosky’s affidavit does not say whether Loos was intoxicated as a result of opioids at the time of the crash. The charges brought by prosecutors do not mention intoxication, claiming only that Loos drove in a “grossly negligent manner.”
Deputy Windham County State’s Attorney Steven Brown declined to comment on whether intoxication factors into the charges, saying it would be improper to talk about the evidence before trial.
Loos’ attorney, Evan Chadwick, declined to comment.
Lind and Gamache worked at the Brattleboro Retreat, according to Gamache’s father. Gamache, a 2010 graduate of Keene High School, had previously worked at the Girls Club of Greenfield (Mass.), according to an obituary.
Lind was an avid runner with strong finishes at the DeMar Marathon in Keene and other local races. He had been training for the 2018 DeMar before his death.
His former high school teammate Timothy Ritchie ran and won the race in Lind’s honor.