Two Hartford Police Officers Hospitalized Following Struggle with Impaired Teenage Driver
Fight took place in front of Charlie Brown's small vehicle store on Route 4
HARTFORD, VT - A traffic stop for speeding that evolved into an impaired driving investigation suddenly turned violent Thursday night when a Woodstock teenager allegedly touched off an altercation that sent two Hartford police officers to the hospital with what were described as "non-life-threatening" head injuries.
Officers Eric Clifford and Fred Peyton were both taken by Hartford Ambulance to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center late Thursday evening where they were being treated in the emergency room, Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten said from the hospital early Friday morning.
"They're doing okay, everybody is okay," the chief said after he notified family members of the situation in person and then drove them to the hospital.
Shortly after 3 a.m. both men had been treated and were released from the hospital, Hartford Police Major Brad Vail confirmed.
Hartford Police Officer Eric Clifford
Chief Kasten said that a routine traffic stop which began shortly after 11 p.m. when Officer Clifford spotted a silver Subaru Forester allegedly speeding along Route 4 in Quechee near the intersection with Center of Town Road took a turn for the worse after Clifford began to suspect that the driver was also under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Officers Clifford and Peyton, who had arrived a short time later to back Clifford up, had the driver, who has since been identified as 19-year-old Mason Thompson of Woodstock, perform field sobriety exercises outside his car and then moved to arrest him, the chief explained.
The pair of officers were attempting to take him into custody when "the driver assaulted, struck, and pushed the police officers," the chief said, adding that "Officer Clifford was pushed to the ground and at one point during the struggle was knocked unconscious."
Hartford Police Officer Fred Peyton
Sgt. Connie Kelley arrived on the scene and together the three officers managed to restrain (Thompson) and get him into handcuffs and into the back of a cruiser while Hartford Ambulance was summoned to the scene to treat the injured officers, the chief explained.
Vermont State Police troopers and a Norwich Police officer also responded to the scene to assist Hartford and the suspect's vehicle was seized and towed to the Hartford Police Station where it was impounded in a garage just before midnight on Thursday.
Vermont State Police Trooper Stacia Geno puts Thompson's vehicle in an impound garage late Thursday night
Thompson, who was a soccer player both at Woodstock Union High School and most recently during his freshman year at Castleton State College, is due in court Friday afternoon in White River Junction to be arraigned on charges of driving under the influence of drugs, resisting arrest, and possession of a controlled substance, Major Vail said.
Mason Thompson, 19, of Woodstock is facing multiple charges (Castleton Spartans Photo)
UPDATE: Click below for coverage of Thompson's arraignment on Friday afternoon
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