WOONSOCKET – They were all put in a rescue squad and taken to the hospital with broken bones, chipped teeth and facial bruises – three women riding in a car that slammed into a utility pole on Diamond Hill Road.
After a two-month probe, however, police yesterday arrested a second motorist they say deliberately caused the crash, the latest outbreak of violence in an ongoing feud with the other driver.
Stephanie Theresa Plante, 23, of Woonsocket, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon – a Buick – and leaving the scene of a crash resulting in personal injury, both felonies.
Driving a 1997 four-door, Plante allegedly ran Jessica Pare's Jeep off the road on Nov. 6. Pare, 20, was riding with Roxanne Pare, 31, and April M. Fagnant, 27, all city residents.
Plante was already under a court order to stay away from Jessica Pare after a physical confrontation outside a convenience store that took place in July, said Detective Lt. Eugene Jalette. Plante was sentenced for misdemeanor assault and ordered to keep away from Pare after that incident.
The two women have had a quarrelsome relationship for years, though the police haven't always been able to figure out why. Jalette says Plante once accused Pare of plying her son with marijuana. The tiff outside the convenience store was over a purse Pare had accused Plante of stealing from her. There may have also been “boyfriend issues,” according to Jalette.
“I guess you could say they just don't get along,” the detective said.
Willful disregard of a protective order is not a criminal offense, but it could trigger a hearing on a probation violation in addition to the criminal charges, said Jalette. So far Plante remains held at the Adult Correctional Institutions in lieu of bail following her arraignment in District Court yesterday. Another hearing is set for March 10.
On the night of the crash, police say Plante pulled into the parking lot of the Shell station at 1375 Diamond Hill Road at 1:09 a.m. – about two minutes after Jessica Pare. The two got out of their vehicles and exchanged words.
As Pare returned to her vehicle, Plante lifted a bottle of Hennessy in the air and suggested that it was time “to party,” a police report says. Then Plante got in her car, put it in gear and drove toward Pare – fast enough for the car lurch forward as she applied the brakes within inches of Pare. She allegedly repeated the maneuver after Pare was safely inside the vehicle.
As Pare drove off, heading westbound on Diamond Hill Road, Plante allegedly followed. Then Plante passed Pare on the left, cut in front of her and slammed on the brakes.
Appearing at headquarters with a lawyer recently, Pare told police she swerved to avoid Plante's car and ended up striking a utility pole on the opposite side of the street.
There was no sign of Plante's car at the scene, but emergency medical personnel took Jessica Pare and her passengers to Landmark Medical Center. Pare suffered a broken ankle and a head injury; Roxanne Pare broke several ribs and chipped a front tooth; and Fagnant broke her right arm, according to reports.
Jalette said the investigation lasted two months because police wanted to thoroughly check out the witness statements given at the scene of the accident before charging anyone. Investigators were unable to locate three passengers who were riding with Plante at the time of the crash to obtain witness statements from them, he said.
Although the victims were the only eyewitnesses, Jalette said their story was largely borne out by surveillance tapes from the gas station.
Plante's behavior was inexcusable, he said.
“She not only endangered her own life and the lives of the people in the other car, but those of the motoring public,” said Jalette.
Plante showed little remorse when police took her into custody from her mother's home on Vine Street before dawn Thursday.
An officer who took Plante into custody quoted her as saying, “I wish I could of run her over and nothing would happen, with police and statements.”