by Jeff Morganteen
April 4, 2011
STAMFORD - Prosecutors and defense attorneys are reviewing a long-awaited State Police report into the accident that killed two men changing a tire along an Interstate 95 shoulder in Darien last fall and resulted in the arrest of a yoga instructor charged with fleeing the scene and driving drunk.
While neither a state police spokesman nor Stamford prosecutors could comment on the report because it was part of an ongoing investigation, attorneys involved in the case offered differing interpretations of its conclusions. The defense attorney for Candice Blanks, 40, of Bedford Street, Stamford, said in a statement that it proves his client did not veer into the breakdown lane during the Oct. 16 fatal accident that killed Filipe Chagas and Lucas Silva, but lawyers representing relatives of the deceased victims disagreed.
Blanks, who allegedly failed sobriety tests after the accident, made a court appearance last week and is due back in court April 27. She is being charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and two counts of evading responsibility.
Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Steven Weiss would not comment on a pending case, and state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said authorities could only release the report once the prosecution has ended.
The report could lead to more serious charges against Blanks, lawyers involved in the case have said.
Darnell Crosland, the defense attorney for Blanks, said the report proved his client did not cross into the breakdown lane, where Silva and Chagas were changing a tire. He said he plans to hire an engineer to measure whether the breakdown lane is a regulation width. He said the relatives of the victims may have a claim against the state.
The lawyer representing the Silva family, Bill Bloss, an attorney with the firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, reserved conclusions drawn from the report for prosecutors, but said Crosland's comments were inaccurate.
"That statement is inconsistent with the state police report and further comment should come from the state's attorney when appropriate," Bloss said.
Attorney Rute Mendes of the firm Ventura, Ribero & Smith, represents Chagas' family.
"They want to ensure that justice is served and they understand the prosecutor is working to make that happen. They're looking to make sure that she does pay for the crimes that she did commit," Mendes said
According to court records, Silva and Chagas were on the I-95 shoulder of the southbound lanes in Darien changing a tire for a friend, headlights and emergency flashers on, just before 2:30 a.m Oct. 16 when an SUV hit them, police said. Witnesses told police the vehicle then fled. Minutes later, Darien police found Blanks' black Lincoln Navigator just north of Exit 10.
Police first spotted Blanks and a friend standing near another car on Ledge Road, which runs parallel to I-95. Troopers noted they could see blood splattered on the smashed front fender of her SUV and on the inside of the engine component, court records show.
State troopers said he could smell alcohol on Blanks' breath, a search warrant affidavit said. State troopers arrested Blanks after she failed standard field sobriety tests. Troopers also said she acted erratically at the state police barracks in Bridgeport after the accident, and they reported mood swings and her desire to call her pet dog since he was home alone, records show.