Police: Driver in fatal Waterford crash was drunk, driving 60 mph

Published March 28. 2017 5:57PM | Updated March 29. 2017 9:34PM

By Lindsay Boyle  Day staff writer

Brianne Colonna

Waterford — The driver who allegedly caused the crash that killed a local woman and seriously injured her mother was driving 60 mph a half-second before the wreck and had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Brianne Colonna, 27, of 118 Deer Run Drive, Colchester, was charged Monday on a warrant with second-degree manslaughter with a vehicle, two counts of second-degree assault with a vehicle, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, first-degree reckless driving and failure to drive right in a construction zone.

The three-car crash, which happened about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 26 on Boston Post Road near Reynolds Lane, killed Stephanie Turowski, a 24-year-old Waterford High School graduate. Her mother, Clark Lane Middle School teacher Olivia Turowski, was seriously injured. Another passenger in the car with the Turowskis, Laura Welp, also was injured, as was Colonna. The driver of the third car was not hurt.

According to the affidavit, written by patrol Officer Troy Gelinas, a police investigation revealed Colonna was driving her gray Chevrolet Equinox north on Boston Post Road when she failed to negotiate a right turn in the construction area.

Colonna’s vehicle crossed the double yellow line and struck the Turowskis’ vehicle, a blue Mazda 3, head on. According to the affidavit, the impact lifted the back end of the Mazda off the ground and sent it backward into a white Honda Accord.

Colonna’s vehicle came to a stop on its side.

In statements given to police, the surviving occupants of the Mazda, whose names are redacted, recalled that the Equinox was in their lane long enough that it was startling. One said she thought the vehicle was “playing chicken” with them. The other recalled saying “this guy is coming into my lane” out loud just before the crash.

Both said there wasn’t much the driver of the Mazda, who isn’t identified, could do — a Jersey barrier was lining the right side of the road because of the construction.

According to the affidavit, the women had eaten breakfast and were heading toward Ulta in the Waterford Commons to go shopping. It wasn’t clear from the affidavit where Colonna had been or where she was going.

Information about the extent of the women’s injuries is redacted from the affidavit, but a Facebook page created in part to keep Olivia Turowski’s past and present students updated shows that Olivia Turowski underwent multiple surgeries for a broken arm and a broken heel and suffered broken vertebrae. Her recovery continues.

Welp also had to undergo surgery to repair a broken arm, according to the page.

A day after the crash, Colonna was in stable condition at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Information drawn from the Equinox’s event data recorder showed the vehicle was traveling at 60 mph a half-second before the wreck. Colonna was neither accelerating nor braking.

The Mazda’s event data recorder showed it had been going 31 mph 5 seconds prior to the crash and was down to 20 mph when the crash occurred because the driver was braking, according to the affidavit.

The posted speed limit in the construction zone was 35 mph.

According to a Waterford Ambulance report, Colonna “admitted to being intoxicated” as medical personnel evaluated her.

Both a blood and a serum sample — the former drawn at 2:49 p.m. and the latter at 2:37 p.m. — revealed Colonna had a 0.25 percent blood-alcohol level, according to the affidavit. A urine sample drawn at 2:11 p.m. showed a 0.17 percent blood-alcohol level, the affidavit said.

Drivers in Connecticut are considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher.

An autopsy determined Stephanie Turowski’s cause of death was a blunt impact injury to the torso.

Colonna was released on a $150,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned April 5 in New London Superior Court.