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Jaffrey man paralyzed in crash faces felony DUI

  • Gregory Steele gives two thumbs up while laying in a hospital bed in Lebanon. Steele injured himself in a single car accident on June 9.  Courtesy photo

  • Greg Steele with a basketball signed by the participants of a fundraiser three-on-three basketball tournament in New Ipswich over the weekend that raised $1,500. Steele was paralyzed in a car accident earlier this month and has been charged with aggravated DWI. Courtesy photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, June 26, 2017

A Jaffrey man paralyzed from the waist down after getting into a single vehicle accident earlier in the month has been charged with aggravated DWI, according to court documents. 

Gregory Steele, 26, was also charged with a misdemeanor DWI offense, possession of marijuana, and transportation of drugs in a motor vehicle by the state police on June 9, after State Trooper Christopher Martineau conducted an investigation into Steele’s accident on Interstate 93 in Northfield.

The Monadnock region community has come together to raise funds for Steele — who broke his neck, back, and collarbone in the accident — which includes a Gofundme account than has raised $9,077 as of Monday afternoon, $5,000 of which close friend Tyler Milbert said is a donation from former NBA superstar Tracy McGrady.

“All in all, it’s about helping a friend in need,” said Milbert, who has been friends with Steele since the two went to Mascenic Regional High School together in the late 2000s. “On his end, it's a hard lesson for him (if the charges prove to be true).”

Martineau first responded to the accident on Interstate 93 northbound near exit 20 at 4:01 a.m. on June 9, according to an affidavit on file at the Merrimack Superior Court. Martineau said in the affidavit that the initial report indicated that a vehicle struck a guardrail and that the operator was unresponsive. 

Upon his arrival, EMTs on scene were attempting to remove the driver — later identified as Steele — from the driver’s seat of the vehicle, a 2000 Honda Civic. There were no other occupants in the vehicle, or any other vehicles involved in the crash. 

Martineau said he observed multiple alcohol containers throughout Steele’s vehicle, opened and unopened, including a Budweiser bottle in the front center console of the vehicle. Martineau wrote that he also observed a bag of “green vegetative matter” and two glass smoking pipes in the vehicle. 

During an on-scene interview with Steele, Martineau noted the smell of alcohol coming from his breath and that Steele’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot. Martineau said Steele was hard to understand, with slow speech. Steele told police that he had had some Budweisers much earlier in the day. 

Before Martineau could conduct any field sobriety tests, EMTs told him they needed to get Steele to a hospital. Martineau arrived at Concord Hospital at 5:31 a.m., according to the affidavit, as he had to check on another crash on his way. Steele was arrested after he completed a CT scan. 

Martineau had requested a blood test, which was taken at 6:23 a.m. Shortly after, Martineau was told that Steele would be transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon due to the extent of his injuries. 

There is no mention of Steele’s BAC level in the affidavit and Carly Ahern, the prosecuting attorney in the Steele case, said Monday afternoon that she wasn’t aware any results of the blood test. 

Ahern said she wouldn’t be surprised if Steele’s injuries were woven into an argument for a reduced sentence, but she hasn’t spoken with anyone representing Steele at this time.

Community coming together

Milbert said he was not aware that Steele was being charged with DWI, but it doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to help his friend. 

“When I first heard, I went into determination mode,” said Milbert, who flew in from Arizona to be with his friend and help with various fundraising initiatives. “It hit really close to home for me. We got our first tattoos together.”

Milbert said he sprang into action after hearing of Steele’s injuries, hoping to help with the cost of medical and other bills. 

One of the more shocking fundraising developments according to Milbert came when former NBA star Tracy McGrady donated $5,000 to help Steele, along with a 50-second video clip offering words of encouragement. McGrady said he may even visit Steele in the hospital when he returns from vacation, according to Milbert. 

“T-Mac is Greg’s favorite player, it’s how he got the nickname G-Mac,” said Milbert. “[Watching Greg watch the video] was really emotional. Seeing his face light up was the best thing.”

Other recent fundraising efforts for Steele included a three-on-three basketball tournament on Saturday that raised about $1,500 and a fundraiser during Cruise Night at Marty’s Driving Range in Mason on Thursday, which raised about $2,000. 

“We saw a lot of new faces, he’s very loved,” said Marty’s co-owner Nicole Ruggiero, of the number of people who showed up on Thursday. “Someone had reached out to me and I knew I had to help out immediately.”

Ruggiero said in an interview Monday afternoon that she was unaware of the pending charges against Steele, but that wouldn’t have changed her desire to help Steele, his friends and family. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.