FREETOWN, Mass. (WPRI) – A man is facing OUI charges after a wreck Friday night claimed the life of a local woman.
According to Freetown police, the crash happened at about 7:50 p.m. on Richmond Road. Officers found a Chevrolet Impala that had run off the road and down an embankment before crashing into a tree. The driver, 36 year-old Jennifer Bartlett, was the only person in the car and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say she had been traveling at a high rate of speed.
“The vehicle lost control as it crossed the railroad tracks, veered off the road, and truck a tree over here,” said Freetown Police Patrolman Ryan Pereira. The “car was totaled; nearly cut in half.”
Bartlett was a Freetown resident who worked at a local restaurant. A makeshift memorial, including a cross bearing the victim’s name, now marks the spot where the crash happened.
“Its devastating for the family and the community,” said Pereira.
Police found 47 year-old Edward Benfeito crouching next to the wreck trying to talk to Bartlett. Officers said he had identified himself as a friend of hers but they later determined that he had been following Bartlett in his car just before she crashed. Police said he was drunk, but their cars never collided to cause Bartlett to drive off the road.
Benfeito was charged with OUI liquor, negligent operation and speeding. He will be arraigned Tuesday morning in Fall River. Investigators did not say whether or not the fact that he was following Bartlett at the time of the crash contributed to the wreck.
Pereira says people should take a lesson from this tragedy this holiday weekend.
“Don’t drink and drive. Slow down.”
The crash remains under investigation by local and state police.