RI woman indicted in deadly fiery wreck faces judge

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Months after a Cranston man was killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 195 in Swansea, the driver accused of causing the wreck faced a judge for the first time.

During her arraignment in Fall River Superior Court Friday morning, Sarah Bergenholtz, 39, of Bristol, RI pleaded not guilty to charges of motor vehicle homicide, motor vehicle manslaughter and operating under the influence of alcohol-subsequent offense.

A grand jury indicted Bergenholz in October in connection with the May 10 crash. However, her arraignment had been delayed due to the seriousness of the injuries she suffered in the crash.

Prosecutors said Bergenholtz was driving her Volkswagen Touareg the wrong way in the area of Exit 3 when the vehicle slammed into a Jeep Liberty, driven by John Souza, 38, of Cranston.

Souza’s vehicle became engulfed in fire and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

During Friday’s hearing, the judge set bail at $1,500 cash or $15,000 with surety. Bergenholtz was also ordered to forfeit her passport and to not leave Massachusetts or Rhode Island unless for medical reasons.

Her next court date was set for April 18.

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