PLAINVILLE - A Plainville man has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident on Halloween night after crashing into a residential backyard and striking two teenagers, but he will be able to avoid prosecution on a charge alleging he was under the influence during the crash.
Colin Kenniston, 45, of 95 Hollyberry Lane, appeared Thursday in Bristol Superior Court, where his attorney, a judge and a prosecutor crafted a unique disposition.
Prior to the hearing, Kenniston had been offered a deal that would have required him to plead guilty to evading responsibility in a less serious case, unrelated to the one in which the two teens were injured. To resolve the charges in the more serious accident - which include those of second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief, risk of injury to a child, operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, improper turn/stop and evading responsibility - he had applied for Accelerated Rehabilitation and the Alcohol Education Program.
Had both programs been granted, all the charges in connection with the Halloween accident could have been dismissed. Instead, Judge Richard Dyer, after hearing from the parents of victims involved in the crash, said he would not accept a deal in which Kenniston pleaded guilty to the less serious evading charge. He agreed to grant the AEP on the DUI charge, but only if Kenniston pleaded guilty to evading responsibility in connection with the accident involving the teenagers.
Kenniston accepted the deal and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended, and two years’ probation.
Kenniston was also granted the AEP for one year. If he’s successful in the program, the operating under the influence charge will be dismissed on Aug. 21 next year. All the other charges, with the exception of the evading responsibility count, will not be pursued.
According to police, Kenniston was driving a pickup truck at about 8:50 p.m. Oct. 31, when he struck a utility pole on Redstone Hill Road, jumped the curb, went through a fence and crashed into a backyard, striking a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old who were sitting on an outdoor couch.
The homeowner, who was hosting a children’s birthday party with about 15 children in attendance, called 911 minutes after the crash and said the driver took off.
According to police, the 17-year-old said he felt pain to his right shin. The 14-year-old, who also said she was struck, complained of pain to her left elbow and left thigh. Neither child went to the hospital, police noted in their report. Instead, their parents said they would take them to their primary care doctor.
Several other children in the yard narrowly missed being struck by the truck, the report said. Police allege Kenniston failed several field sobriety tests the evening of the crash, after officers traced the vehicle involved back to him.
Two parents spoke during Thursday’s hearing and said they were opposed to Kenniston using programs to avoid all the charges in the accident. The mother of one of the injured teens said her son had to undergo physical therapy on his leg for about six months after suffering some contusions in the accident, and that his behavior has changed for the worse since the accident.
The homeowner who hosted the party also spoke at the hearing. She said she pleaded with Kenniston after the crash not to move his vehicle, as it was believed that a child may have been under the truck. Instead, he never paid her any attention and chose to drive away, according to police. Thankfully, the homeowner said, it turned out that no one was under the truck.
After calling police and gathering all the children in her home, the woman continued, she said she could remember dropping to her knees and being thankful that no one had been killed.
During the hearing, Kenniston’s attorney, Michael Daly, did not downplay the seriousness of the allegations or the concerns by the victims’ families. He said his client suffers a number of physical issues that led to depression, which played a role in what happened the night of the incident.
Daly also said Kenniston has used words like “remorse, guilt and shame” to describe what he has felt since the accident.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Kenniston spoke briefly to the audience in the courtroom.
“I’m very sorry for all the problems I caused all the families,” he said. “Deeply sorry.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.