Alcohol factor in double fatal
By NED P. RAUCH, Staff Writer
February 8, 2005
PAUL SMITHS ó The Paul Smithís College student who drove a snowmobile into a rock Sunday morning, killing himself and a friend riding with him, had been drinking.
According to State Police, autopsies performed Monday revealed Joshua Rau of Emmaus, Pa., had a blood alcohol content of .14 percent, well above the legal limit.
State Police tested the blood of Rauís passenger, Kristine Guest, for alcohol, as well, but would not reveal the results.
State Police Capt. Robert LaFountain said the two had been with a group of friends before setting out on the snowmobile but would not describe the groupís activities.
Rau died just hours after turning 20 years old. His birthday was Saturday.
Police arrested another Paul Smithís student for allegedly providing alcohol to Rau three days before the crash. George Thibeault, 22, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child.
Rau and Guest were driving a borrowed snowmobile on the frozen surface of Lower St. Regis Lake before dawn on Sunday. Paul Smithís looks out onto the lake.
At about 4:45 a.m., police said, they ran into Peterís Rock, the end of a peninsula reaching into the lake.
The two were tossed from the sled and died of multiple blunt-force traumatic injuries, police said. Alcohol consumption, speed and reckless operation were listed as contributing factors in the crash.
College officials described Rau as a good student who was involved in campus life. Guest, 20, of West Hartford, Conn., was a student from Quinnipiac University. She and three other friends were visiting for the weekend.
The crash cast a pall over the campus, where students and faculty were still struggling with the death of Stephen Welch, a 19-year-old student killed in a car crash at the end of January.
Todayís afternoon classes have been canceled. Instead, students, staff and faculty will gather at 1 p.m. to discuss the events of the last two weeks.
The assembly was scheduled to "help our community work through this difficult time," Communications Director Stephanie Colby said. "Itís not a formal, scripted event. Itís just a very relaxed gathering."
The college has also made counselors available to students and faculty and will provide buses to take people to Rauís funeral in Pennsylvania on Friday.
Both fatal crashes involved alcohol. Police did not disclose Welchís blood-alcohol content but did say he had been drinking.
Colby said it was too early for the school to be looking into revising its alcohol policies.
"Weíre still just reeling from the shock," she said.
But Franklin Countyís district attorney said something ought to be done.
"Itís just so tragic," Derek Champagne said Monday. "Thereís no easy answers, but hopefully we can work with the college to do whatever we can to address the obvious fact that we have three dead young people in such a short period of time.
"Weíll offer whatever we can."
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In loving Memory of Kristine Guest