Police: Vermont man choked woman, crashed two cars

SARANAC LAKE – A Vermont man was arrested this weekend after police say he choked a woman at a house just outside the village, then drove drunk and crashed his and her cars.

Riley E. Winch, 31, of Waterbury, Vermont, was involved in a domestic dispute at 61 Beechwood Road in the town of Harrietstown early Sunday morning, state police said in a news release. Jennifer Fleishman, spokeswoman for Ray Brook-based Troop B, said Winch and the 23-year-old victim both live together in Vermont and were staying locally with a relative of the victim.

“They had gone to the Waterhole (bar) in Saranac Lake earlier and had an altercation with another patron there,” Fleishman said. “Their argument at the Beechwood address escalated about the altercation they had at the Waterhole.”

Troopers said in the release that they were called to the house around 2:30 a.m. Winch allegedly choked the woman and then left the residence in his car before state police could arrive. Fleishman said the victim declined medical attention.

Troopers searched the area for Winch, during which time police say he returned to the the residence and drove away in her car. They eventually found him walking in the eastbound lane of state Route 86, near Brookside Road, waving his arms.

“Winch had noticeable injuries on his left hand and left leg,” the release states. “Winch told the troopers that he had fallen and sustained injuries from the fall.”

He was taken into custody and charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, a class A misdemeanor.

A short time later, troopers located the two vehicles and determined Winch had crashed them both. The woman’s vehicle, a 2005 Subaru Outback, was found on the south shoulder of state Route 86 near the railroad crossing just outside Saranac Lake. It was rolled onto its passenger side and had front-end damage. Winch had also crashed his own vehicle, a 2004 Volkswagen Golf, on Old Military Road in the town of North Elba.

Fleishman said Winch suffered small lacerations to his left hand and leg. He declined medical treatment.

Winch was additionally charged with two counts of driving while intoxicated. Police say he refused all sobriety tests as well as a breath analysis to determine his blood-alcohol content. He was arraigned in town of North Elba court on the DWI charges and remanded to the Essex County Jail in Lewis in lieu of $500 cash bail or $1,000 bond.

Winch was then arraigned in town of Harrietstown court on the domestic charge and remanded to the Franklin County Jail in Malone lieu of $1,000 cash, $2,000 bond.

He’s scheduled to return to Harrietstown court on Sept. 8 and North Elba court on Sept. 15.