WOONSOCKET â€” A city woman got in a car accident in Smithfield Wednesday morning while driving the vehicle of a man who was later found dead in his apartment in Johnston, according to state police.
Dawn E. Utting, 45, of 75 Union St., was arraigned in Kent County District Court Thursday on charges of failure to report a certain death, reckless driving and operating on a suspended license. She was ordered held without bail at the ACI pending a hearing as a probation violator on a prior domestic disorderly conduct charge.
State Police Detective Commander Michael Winquist said foul play is not suspected in the death of 70-year-old Robert Rossi, though the investigation remains open pending the results of an autopsy.
Winquist said Utting struck a guardrail near the junction of I-295 and Route 44 at 11:48 a.m., a few minutes after an off-duty state trooper reported seeing an erratic driver in the area. When troopers were dispatched to the accident, Utting told them â€śher friend Bob had diedâ€ť just hours earlier and that his body was still in his apartment.
â€śShe was very confused and disoriented,â€ť said Winquist. â€śShe was upset because her friend had just died.â€ť
Rossiâ€™s body was later found in his home at 204 Greenville Road, Apt. 42, in Johnston, police said. There were no apparent signs of foul play, but the victimâ€™s body was transported to the state medical examinerâ€™s office, which initiated an autopsy yesterday, Winquist said.
Winquist said the victim was just a friend and that she had spent the night at his home. She told investigators that she woke up around 4 Wednesday morning and found Rossi lying on the floor in the bathroom. Winquist said Utting described the victim as unresponsive and that she was sure he had died.
Utting told police she tried to resuscitate Rossi but she never called for a rescue squad. Winquist said she stayed in the victimâ€™s apartment for several hours before she got in his 2000 Honda Accord and drove away without reporting the death.
â€śShe didnâ€™t say why,â€ť Winquist said. â€śShe just said she was nervous.â€ť
Utting is due back in court on April 26.