HOPKINTON — Police are seeking a 34-year-old Massachusetts man on charges that he had fentanyl and methadone in his system when he caused a crash along Route 138 on Halloween that caused the death of an 88-year-old Westerly woman and left three others with significant injuries including himself.
Hopkinton police put a public alert out late last week after the man, Keith A. Brown, of Fall River, Mass., failed to appear for an agreed upon arraignment hearing Friday in Fourth Division District Court. Brown is wanted on charges including driving to endanger resulting in death, driving under the influence resulting in death and driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injury.
Brown had been notified of the charges through his attorney and had agreed to appear at that time. When he did not show up, the police said several attempts were made to contact him but were unsuccessful.
"Mr. Brown is still recovering from several broken ribs, and has casts on both his right leg and arm and may be in a wheelchair. The injuries were a result of the accident that occurred on Oct. 31," the police said. Brown stands 6-feet tall and weighs 360 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
The charges stem from a crash that took place around 2:30 p.m. in the area of 169 Spring Street. An investigation determined that a 2003 Chevy Tahoe driven by Brown was heading west when it crossed the center line and before colliding head-on with a 2019 Jeep Cherokee driven by 57-year-old Alexandrea Martino, of Westerly. Martino and Brown were each taken by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital following the crash.
The crash killed Martino's mother, 88-year-old Westerly resident Elisabeth Thayer, a passenger in the Jeep. An autopsy later determined her death was caused by multiple traumatic injuries as a result of blunt force trauma suffered in the crash.
A 35-year-old man who was a passenger in Brown's Tahoe was also treated for injuries, a police report said.
All passengers were wearing seatbelts when the the crash occurred, and air bags were properly deployed, the police said. Members of the Hope Valley-Wyoming Fire Department, Hope Valley Ambulance and West Greenwich Ambulance were all involved in the response.
A witness came forward shortly after the crash to report that just moments before, they had also had a wrong-way encounter with a driver they believed may have been Brown. Further investigation revealed a eparate incident moments before in which Brown swerved left of the center line for no apparent reason before swerving back into his own lane. The witness, who was not identified, told police that it was necessary to swerve to avoid a collision.
"Probable cause was presented in a search warrant for Mr. Brown’s blood and vehicle," Hopkinton Police Chief David Palmer said in a press release. "The toxicology report from the Rhode Island Department of Health listed fentanyl and methadone as present in his blood system at the time of the crash."
Those who know where Brown may be are asked to call Hopkinton police at 401-377-7750.