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Ex-FBI Director Freeh Was Likely Asleep When He Crashed His Car, Report Says

Matt Rourke
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, shown here in 2012, crashed his car in Vermont on August 25. The accident report concludes he was asleep at the wheel.

A state police accident report concludes that former FBI Director Louis Freeh likely fell asleep at the wheel when he crashed his car in Barnard last month.

Since Freeh says he has no memory of the accident — or even of leaving his vacation home in Barnard that morning — the sequence of events has to be pieced together from the eyewitness accounts and the recently released accident report.

According to the report, Freeh’s SUV was traveling south in the northbound lane of  Route 12 at about noon on Aug. 25, forcing three motorists off the road before crashing into a mailbox, a rock ledge, and finally a tree. Freeh was seriously injured and rushed to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital. That’s where a blood alcohol test could have been performed. But State Police Captain Ray Keefe was it wasn’t warranted.

“We had a person who was 64 years old who, based on what the scene looked like and the witnesses, was probably asleep at the wheel. There were no odors of intoxicants or any evidence of drug use so we have to have probable cause to go forward with getting a test,"  said Keefe.

Freeh told police he slept badly the night before the accident. In the police report, Freeh’s sons, who were not with him in Vermont at the time, say he went to bed at 10 p.m. and woke at 8 a.m. the following morning. Freeh’s own terse two-sentence description of the accident does not indicate the use of any sleeping aids, and Captain Keefe says there is no way to investigate that now. But he says for whatever reason, the former FBI director lost control of his car in a way that all too many drivers do — around lunch time on a hot day.

“If you talk to anybody who’s worked in this field for any length of time you’ll see the same thing, that’s a common time for people to fall asleep at the wheel," Keefe said.

Keefe says he waited eight hours before sending out a press release about the crash until he was certain that Freeh had sufficient security at the hospital. He says an off-duty FBI staffer who showed up at the crash scene just happened to be driving by. Keefe says Freeh’s injuries to his leg were severe and that his memory loss could have been caused by a head injury.

Police say Freeh will be issued a written warning for his failure to stay in his lane prior to the accident.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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