RICHMOND – A 20-year-old North Kingstown man was killed in motor vehicle accident Friday in Richmond.
Nicholas Gershkoff, of 69 Mesa Drive, was fatally injured after the pickup truck he was a passenger in overturned on Hillsdale Road at approximately 7:39 p.m.
Richmond police responded to the scene and discovered that two of the three occupants of the truck had freed themselves from the vehicle and only suffered minor injuries.
Police said the third occupant, Gershkoff, was pinned beneath the overturned vehicle and was unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
A police investigation revealed that the vehicle’s operator, Zachary M. Thole, 20, of 8 Twilight Trail, Richmond, was driving along Hillside Road with two passengers – Gershkoff and a 20-year-old female passenger from South Kingstown – when he lost control of his pickup truck and traveled off the right side of the roadway causing the vehicle to roll over.
The 20-year-old female was transported to South County Hospital where she was treated for minor injuries and released. Her name is being withheld pending further investigation.
After the crash, police said Thole voluntarily submitted to blood tests at South County Hospital and was subsequently arrested and charged with one felony count of driving under the influence of liquor and/or drugs – death resulting.
If convicted, the penalty includes a sentence of a minimum of five years in jail and a maximum of 15 years in jail, fines from $5,000 to $10,000 and a five-year revocation of driver’s license privileges.
Thole was processed at the Richmond Police Station and was arraigned before Justice of the Peace Michael J. Robinson. Thole was held on $100,000 surety bail and was transported to the ACI.
He was scheduled to appear for bail review Monday at the Fourth District Court, Wakefield.
Thole has one prior DUI arrest by the Rhode Island State Police in August 2012, and a second arrest for reckless driving by the North Kingstown police in April 2011.
In 2011, Thole was charged with one count of reckless driving and one count of obstructing a police officer in execution of duty. He pleaded no contest to the obstruction charge and was assessed court costs and a monetary charge to the VCIF. The reckless driving charge was dismissed.
In 2012, state police charged Thole with driving under the influence (first offense – BAC unknown). He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 10 hours of community service, three months loss of license, to attend DUI school, and was assessed a fine plus court costs.