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January 23, 2013

Man admits drinking before hitting child

MANCHESTER — A West Newbury man who, according to prosecutors, was more concerned about getting rid of evidence that he’d been drinking than about the well-being of the 10-year-old boy he’d just struck with his car, was sentenced to two years of probation Tuesday.

Michael Smith, 44, of 10 Indian Hill St., admitted he had consumed at least four beers before getting behind the wheel of his brother-in-law’s pickup truck on the Fourth of July in 2011.

Salem District Court prosecutor Patrick Collins said that, as Smith drove along Ocean Street in Manchester, he struck the child.

Smith stopped, according to bystanders. His brother-in-law got out of the truck and went to check on the boy, and Smith drove off, traveling about a quarter of a mile and driving around a corner, where he tossed four empty Corona beer bottles out of the truck. He then returned to the scene, said the prosecutor.

Smith was charged with drunken driving, second offense; driving to endanger and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

The boy suffered a severe case of “road rash,” deep abrasions on his face from contact with the pavement, according to a victim-impact statement submitted by his mother. The boy’s summer vacation was essentially ruined and the marks on his face were a daily reminder of what had happened, she said.

“Mr. Smith’s first instinct was to get rid of the incriminating evidence, the beer bottles, rather than tend to the child,” said Collins, who urged Judge Michael Lauranzano to find Smith guilty and impose a suspended two-year jail term in the case. Collins noted that Smith’s record includes a prior drunken driving case in Massachusetts and one in Vermont.

But Smith’s lawyer, Ed O’Reilly of Gloucester, argued that the case should be continued without a finding for two years, saying Smith “feels terrible about what happened.”

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