EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 27, 2013

Police say drunken driver hit two men at park

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — After backing her sports utility vehicle into two men and knocking them off their feet, Maureen Schofield was approached by several bystanders, one of whom asked if she was in diabetic shock.

Police said she responded,”No, I’m just an alcoholic.”

The bystander also told police that when he asked the woman if she knew it was illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, she replied, “It is?” and “I didn’t know.”

Police say Schofield, 65, of 110 Westchester Drive, was drunk when she backed her 2011 Chevy Equinox out of a parking spot across from the tennis shack at Winnekenni Park and struck two North Andover men on Sunday.

The two men, Manuel Leon, 88, and Miguel Cabrera, 63, both of 220 Andover Bypass St., North Andover, told police they were standing on the grass and chatting on the Winnekenni Basin side of the road that runs through the park.

Police said Leon was transported to Lawrence General Hospital for “non-incapacitating” injuries, while Cabrera drove himself to the hospital to be checked.

The incident was reported to police at 12:26 p.m., shortly after the start of Winnekenni Castle’s Classic Car Show. Police said the entrance to the park was very busy at the time with people coming and going.

Schofield was arraigned on the charges yesterday in Haverhill District Court.

Judge Patricia Dowling released her on personal recognizance but with several conditions. Schofield must attend four AA meetings a week, must attend a Structured Outpatient Addiction Program and must remain drug-and alcohol-free. The judge also issued a 60-day warning. If Schofield commits another violation while her case is pending she could be ordered held for up to 60 days without bail. Schofield must return to court on Sept. 18 for a pretrial hearing.

According to a police report, when Patrolman Guy Cooper arrived at the park the 88-year-old man was lying on his back and several people were comforting him. Cooper wrote in his report that with the help of bystanders he placed a blanket under the man’s head, while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Cabrera told police that he and his friend were on the grass looking at the water, with their backs to the road that runs through the park, when he heard an engine roar and they were struck by the SUV.

A witness walked up to the officer and handed him Schofield’s car keys, saying “I think that woman is drunk.” The man told the officer that he had removed the keys from the vehicle’s ignition when it appeared that Schofield was trying to drive off. Cooper wrote in his report that when he approached Schofield, she appeared to be intoxicated. Cooper said he asked Schofield if she had been drinking, and she replied, “Yeah, what do you think? I’m an alcoholic.”

Cooper noted that he retrieved three empty 8-ounce bottles of wine, two half-empty bottles and three full bottles from the passenger seat and floor.

When a Trinity ambulance arrived, Schofield refused medical treatment, Cooper wrote in his report.

Because Schofield was unable to stand on her own, police did not administer a sobriety test, according to the report. Cooper arrested the woman for operating under the influence of alcohol.

Witnesses told police that Schofield appeared to suddenly accelerate then skid sideways, knocking the two men onto the field that leads down to Winnekenni Basin. The witnesses told police that Schofield accelerated onto the field, then came to a stop about 20 feet from the water.

Another witness told police that about two hours prior to the incident, he saw Schofield sitting in her car asleep with the windows down and the engine running. About an hour later Schofield was still sitting in her car sleeping, the witness said.

While Schofield was being booked at the Haverhill Police Station, she kept asking why she was there and told officers that she was very drunk, but did not hit anyone. Cooper wrote in his report that after Schofield refused a breathalyzer test, she was informed that her license was being automatically suspended. She told the officers that she was at Winnekenni Park “watching the water and having a few drinks.”

In Massachusetts, refusal of a breathalzyer test, first offense, results in an automatic 180-day loss of license. A second offense (or an offender who is under 21) results in a three-year loss of license. Subsequent offenses require lengthier terms.