Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy takes questions after Dennis Drue was arraigned in a county court.
Photo by Marci Revette.
BALLSTON SPA Dennis Drue, the Siena College student police say rear-ended an SUV on the Northway on Dec. 1, killing two Shenendehowa High School students and injuring two other students, is facing a litany of charges over the incident.
Drue was arraigned in Saratoga County Court on Monday, Jan. 7, on an indictment holding 59 counts, 52 of them felonies, including multiple counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of drugs or alcohol.
Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said the DWAI charge does not require a quantitative amount for Drue’s BAC level, although he said he believed Drue was under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana when the accident occurred.
“Many people mistakenly think pot is no big deal,” Murphy told reporters after the arraignment. “Pot is a big deal when you drive. It affects your mind and your body in a way that your reaction time is lessened, your ability to perceive things is lengthened, your ability to judge distances is made less accurate and those kinds of things affect your motor control and skills so that you can’t make appropriate judgments as if you were sober.”
Murphy said the lengthy indictment is “not surprising” because there were four victims in the crash. Two of them, Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, were killed and two others, Matt Hardy and Bailey Wind, were seriously injured.
“When you have one victim, the indictment can be certainly lengthy, but when you multiply that by four victims it is going to be four times as large, at least,” Murphy said.
During the court proceeding, which were presided over by Judge Jerry Scarano, there was a discussion between prosecutors and Stephen Coffey, Drue’s attorney, over whether bail should be granted. Murphy said police found a bag of marijuana and a marijuana pipe in Drue’s car, as well as a receipt from his bank account indicating he has “vast resources of money.” Police also reported that Drue was anxious to gain access to his two safety deposit boxes.