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Drunk driver raises havoc in Tupper Sunday evening

Dan McClelland

Photo by Jim Lanthier

Photo by Jim Lanthier

by Phyllis Larabie
At approximately 9:40p.m. Sunday evening Contractor and Village Trustee Clint Hollingsworth and his wife were watching television in their Lindsay Ave. home when they heard a loud crunching sound. When they looked out the window they noticed a minivan had hit their porch.
Clint said he watched the vehicle back up and head down Lindsay Ave. towards Park Street. He said it appeared that the minivan had been driving down Freeman Street and went straight through the T- intersection, just missing his wife's car, before hitting their porch.
After the crash the minivan's driver apparently left Lindsay Ave.  turned right on Park St.  and headed east on the state highway.
Traveling up Park Street,  the vehicle left the  road and veered across the property of the Park Motel, hitting some chairs on the lawn and dragging them. The van also left ruts in the moist lawn.  
Maggie Ernenwein,  co-owner of the Park Motel said, she contacted the police department via their Facebook page to notify them of an  erratic driver and she was contacted back within minutes. She stated that as she was outside picking up the pieces of the broken chairs, a police car drove past her going out towards Saranac Lake. and within minutes they were flying back by her place, coming back into town.
Before his return to the village, Gilbert, according to state police, veered off the north shoulder of the state highway at 2371 State Route 30, striking a sign post.  He then backed into that private driveway and headed back onto the state highway, failing to yield the right of way.  His vehicle  struck a 2013 Dodge Charger driven b Timothy Larabie, 25, of Tupper Lake.
The Larabie vehicle spun 180 degrees, exiting the north shoulder of the highway and flipped onto the driver's side.  Gilbert left the scene, headed back toward the village.
 State Police responding to the rollover observed Gilbert's 2018 Chrysler Pacifica leaving the scene, traveling west at a high rate of speed.
The driver of the Chrysler failed to comply when troopers activated the emergency lights and sirens. The vehicle continued west, and headed into the Village of Tupper Lake, continued down Park Street and rear-ended a  2008 Jeep at the intersection of Park Street and Hill,  before coming to rest.  
Tupper Lake Fire Department and Tupper Lake Rescue were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident at 9:57p.m. to  2712 State Route 30 by Dugal Road for a one car rollover.
At 10 p.m.- just three minutes from the first call- Tupper Lake Fire Department and Tupper Lake Rescue were notified of a two-car motor vehicle accident at the corner of Hill and Park.
The Tupper Lake Rescue Squad volunteers responded with two ambulances.  The driver of the Chrysler van, Leo A. Gilbert, 49, of Ogdensburg, was transported to AMC for minor injuries.
The occupants of the Jeep were Tina Vaillancourt, 49, and Desirae Sutton, 24, formerly of Hammond, now from Tupper Lake. Vaillancourt was treated at the scene for neck pain and Sutton was apparently not injured.
Gilbert submitted to a blood test to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of his blood. He was treated and released from Adirondack Health into state police custody.
He was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment 1st degree, unlawfully fleeing a police officer in motor vehicle, third degree, and driving while intoxicate – first offense, as well as numerous vehicle and traffic violations.
Gilbert was arraigned in the Tupper Lake Village Court before Justice Christopher Delair and remanded to Franklin County Jail in lieu of $500 cash bail or $1,000 bond.
Village Police were assisted by sate police troopers, and the U.S. Border Patrol, which was in the area that evening.  
A unit from the Saranac Lake Rescue Squad responded to the Route 30 rollover.
The driver of the sedan asked this reporter to remind people to "please think twice before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.”