Driver enters not guilty plea in I-395 fatal crash

A 50-year-old Groton man accused of causing the March 9 crash on Interstate 395 that resulted in the death of Norwich firefighter Benjamin De Mond pleaded not guilty to drunken driving and assault charges during a brief appearance Wednesday in Superior Court in Norwich.

Willis Goodale has been held at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in lieu of $750,000 bond since he allegedly caused a multiple-car accident when he attempted to cut across I-395 via the emergency turnaround between exits 79 and 79A. He was charged immediately with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and second-degree assault with a motor vehicle.

State police have said they are continuing to investigate and anticipate additional charges. Goodale pleaded not guilty to the initial charges Wednesday, and Judge Patrick J. Clifford continued the case to May 24. Goodale is being represented by the public defender’s office.

According to state police, Goodale allegedly attempted to cut across to the emergency turnaround after leaving the Mobil service station. De Mond, 33, was driving south when he lost control of his Nissan Maxima as he tried unsuccessfully to avoid Goodale’s Jeep Cherokee. After the collision, De Mond’s car ran through the turnaround and into oncoming traffic, troopers said, hitting Montville resident Andrew Crouch’s car head-on and causing it to roll over. De Mond’s two young sons were seriously injured in the crash.

De Mond’s car then spun into the right lane, where it hit a vehicle driven by Albert Fisher, 58, of Lisbon.

Crouch, 59, was also seriously injured and spent days recovering at The William W. Backus Hospital.


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