Boy calls 911 from car to report father's drunken driving

A Connecticut state trooper speaks with Owen Gilman of Warwick, R.I., the driver of a car involved in an accident just south of Exit 91 on Interstate 95 south in Stonington Wednesday night, July 31, 2013.
Will Jenkins/Special to The Day A Connecticut state trooper speaks with Owen Gilman of Warwick, R.I., the driver of a car involved in an accident just south of Exit 91 on Interstate 95 south in Stonington Wednesday night, July 31, 2013.

Stonington — A 10-year-old boy, fearing for his life, told Rhode Island police Wednesday night that he was contemplating jumping from a car traveling on Interstate 95 because the driver, his father, was driving under the influence.

But his 911 call was dropped as Rhode Island police attempted to transfer it to Connecticut State Police Troop E in Montville. Seconds later, Troop E received multiple 911 calls reporting a motor vehicle accident in Stonington.

The boy's father, Owen Gilman, 49, of Warwick, R.I., got into an accident on the southbound side of I-95 just south of Exit 91 in Stonington. The accident was reported at 11:25 p.m.

Police said Gilman was driving a 2007 Mercedes Benz C230 at high speed when it rear-ended a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The collision sent the Jeep and its male driver about 50 feet off the right shoulder and down an embankment, causing the Jeep to overturn.

The boy, his 12-year-old sister and the driver of the Jeep were injured and were transported to local hospitals. Police said Gilman was not hurt.

Gilman was charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to drive at a reasonable distance, possession of drug paraphernalia, illegal sale of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, and two counts each of risk of injury to a minor and second-degree assault with a motor vehicle.

In his 911 call, the boy said his sister also was in the car. According to the police report, "The juvenile went on to state that he was considering jumping from the vehicle, as he considered this a better option than crashing at the speeds they were traveling."

The two children were taken to The Westerly Hospital for evaluation and treatment of lacerations. The driver of the Jeep, 23-year-old Michael Pernick of Massachusetts, was transported by Stonington Ambulance to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, where he was listed in fair condition Thursday night.

Gilman was placed under arrest when he failed a field sobriety test. Police also said they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in plain view inside his car.

Jacqueline Gilman, the mother of the children, said Thursday she has been divorced from Gilman for three years. She would not comment on the case.

"The kids are home and they are doing good, considering," she said. The children sustained bruises and her son has a gash on his head, she said.

Will Jenkins of Groton said he was one of the first witnesses to respond to the accident scene. He said he had just played a softball game in Westerly and had some pizza with the team before heading home.

Jenkins said he saw Gilman climb out of the car, which had struck a guardrail.

He said a good Samaritan was tending to the children, holding Dunkin' Donuts napkins against the boy's head. Jenkins said he took over applying pressure to the boy's wound while the good Samaritan steered traffic away from the accident scene.

Jenkins said he also helped get the children away from the car because there was smoke coming out of it.

"The dad told me that they were coming from a Red Sox game and that they were heading home," Jenkins said. "I said to him, 'Where's home?' and he said it was in Warwick. I told him, 'Buddy, you're going the wrong way.' He asked me for a cigarette. He was acting strange."

Jenkins said it appeared that Gilman was not concerned for his children and was not paying attention to them. He said he was convinced that Gilman was intoxicated based on his behavior at the scene.

Jenkins said he spoke to the children. The girl said they were both sitting in the back of the car but that her brother had flown into the front during the impact.

The boy asked Jenkins whether he had been in an accident because, the boy said, it felt like a "dream."

Jenkins said he never saw the Jeep and didn't realize another car was involved until he read media reports about the accident.

At Gilman's arraignment Thursday in New London Superior Court, Judge Karen A. Goodrow set his bond at $250,000, telling him that if the accusations against him are true, he had behaved very badly. Gilman's parents were working with a bail bondsman and it appeared he would post bond.

Rhode Island court records show that Gilman was arrested in May 2012 for driving under the influence — first offense. The charge was dismissed on June 13, 2012.

Gilman was arrested by North Kingstown police for driving under suspension on Jan. 3. He pleaded no contest on Feb. 19. He was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended after 20 days of home confinement, and one year of probation. He also was required to serve 30 hours of community service.

Staff writers Karen Florin and Greg Smith contributed to this report.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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