A Newton-Wellesley Hospital emergency room doctor pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that she caused a three-car crash, sending one man to the hospital, while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol on Friday morning in Wellesley, according to a spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office and the Wellesley Police Department.
The driver charged was identified as Kristin Lynes Howard, of 15 Greylock Road in Wellesley.
A spokesman for Newton-Wellesley Hospital said that Howard began working at the hospital in 1999, and that news of the crash came as a shock to those who knew her. The hospital has not had issues with her before, he said.
"She has, over the years, received a number of very grateful letters from patients, really very nice letters of thanks. This came as a surprise," said hospital spokesman Brian O'Dea.
On Friday morning at around 8:45 a.m., Howard was driving her Subaru Outback west through the Washington Street Whole Foods parking lot when she allegedly struck a Whole Foods delivery truck, according to Wellesley Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Marie Cleary. She then allegedly backed up and hit a fence, drove forward, and then drove backwards again, hitting the fence again.
She then allegedly accelerated and drove her car into a decorative granite post, said Cleary, snapping the post in half and sending the top half sailing across to the opposite side of State Street. The crash sent Howard’s car airborne, and she allegedly sideswiped a tree before hitting a Mercury Marquis at the traffic lights on State Street.
The collision sent the Grand Marquis into the opposite travel lane, where it struck a trailer towed by a dump truck, said Cleary.
The driver of the Marquis sustained injuries that were not believed to be life threatening, said Clearly, and he was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and later released.
The driver of the dump truck was not injured, and Howard declined medical treatment, said Cleary.
When police interviewed Howard at the scene, said Cleary, they could smell alcohol on her breath. Her speech was allegedly slurred, her eyes glassy and her pupils dilated, and Cleary said she failed a field sobriety test. Police found multiple types of narcotics in her possession and in her car, said Cleary. They were prescription pills, she said, though she did not specify what kind of pills.
Howard was charged with driving under the influence of liquor, driving under the influence of drugs, operating recklessly so as to endanger, leaving the scene of property damage, leaving an accident scene after property damage, and possession of both Class C and Class E narcotics.
David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, said that the district attorney asked for $10,000 cash bail, but Howard was released on personal recognizance. She is due back in court on Jan. 7 for pretrial.
Howard was relieved of patient care responsibilities pending an investigation on Friday when Newton-Wellesley Hospital was notified of the incident, said O'Dea. Howard is not technically an employee, he said, but has privileges to work there, which he said is common in community hospitals.
Hospital officials expect to make a final decision on her employment sometime on Tuesday, he said.
"We're very saddened by the incident," he said. "After looking at the video, we're very grateful that no one was more seriously injured."
Howard could not immediately be reached for comment. Her attorney also could not be reached for comment.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org