MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A community mental health agency disputes a police account that someone contacted it before a man drove the wrong way on an interstate, causing crashes that killed five teenagers and injured several other people.
Police said the man, Steven Bourgoin, visited a hospital three times hours before the crashes and was seen by a physician’s assistant and a mental health center was called but didn’t screen him. The account is in a statement from a state trooper who investigated the crashes.
The statement does not say who contacted the Howard Center, however the center said it was never contacted to evaluate, assess or screen Bourgoin the day of the crashes or any time before.
Bourgoin also was not referred to the Howard Center by any organization, the mental health agency said.
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Police say Bourgoin, 36, crashed into the teens’ car on Interstate 89 in Williston and then stole a police cruiser before crashing it into at least seven other vehicles. He was critically injured in the crashes. He pleaded not guilty on Friday to five counts of murder and remained hospitalized on Monday in good condition.
Chittenden County state’s attorney TJ Donovan would not say whether Bourgoin was trying to kill himself but has said he would not classify the crashes as accidents.
Donovan, who is on the Howard Center’s board, said Tuesday that the state trooper’s statement reflects what the trooper believes he was told.
The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington said it recognizes that the statement raises questions about the driver’s contacts with the hospital and said it’s cooperating with the investigation. The hospital cited privacy laws that prevent it from disclosing patient information to the public without the patient’s authorization.
The hospital in some cases may suggest a patient contact the Howard Center, or the hospital might talk directly to the center about the next steps, spokesman Mike Noble said. The hospital also has its own inpatient psychiatric unit, he said.
Bourgoin’s attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
This story has been corrected to show the Howard Center says no one contacted it before the crashes, not after the crashes.