Passenger describes giving CPR to friend in fatal Kent crash

Photo of Julia Perkins

KENT — The driver in a May accident had several alcoholic drinks in the hours before the crash that killed her friend, a passenger in the car claims in an affidavit.

The passenger, Angela Brazzale, describes administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to her friend, Deanna Lynn Silvernail, before the Lakeville woman died in her arms.

Brazzale’s account led State Police to arrest the driver, Shelby Roger, 26, of Salisbury, days before Christmas, on various charges. She was released on $200,000 bond and was scheduled to appear Friday in state Superior Court in Torrington.

Roger was charged with driving under the influence when she collided with another car on Skiff Mountain Road in Kent around 7 p.m. May 4, state police said.

Brazzale, 22, said Roger drank at least part of an Itz Spritz hard seltzer after 1 p.m. that day, as well as about three hard seltzers between 4 to 6:30 p.m., while the women were at Sharon Tavern.

While at the tavern, Roger went to her car twice to take shots of Deep Eddy lemon, according to the affidavit.

Roger had told Brazzale she was O.K. to drive, Brazzale said in the affidavit.

David Moraghan, attorney for Roger, said he has not seen the arrest warrant affidavit yet and is still waiting on hospital and autopsy reports.

“Right now, it is just at the very beginning,” he said. “We’ve known this was going to be coming down the road at some point. It took longer than we thought, which indicates to me that there may be some issues there that are not laid out in the arrest warrant.”

State police said they found several open and closed containers of alcohol in the car.

Brazzale said she gave her attorney several videos depicting the women at the tavern “acting drunk.” One video was taken minutes before the crash and shows the women dancing and singing in the car, “while Shelby was doing the same and not paying attention to the road,” Brazzale said in the affidavit.

State police said an investigation revealed Roger’s blood-alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 and she was driving more than 55 mph in a 30 mph zone. The other driver was going between 33 to 47 mph, according to the arrest warrant.

After the crash

Roger and Brazzale are cousins, and Brazzale and Silvernail had been friends since they were 4 or 5, according to the affidavit.

Silvernail graduated from Housatonic Valley Regional High School and worked at Patterson Oil Company in Lakeville.

After the crash, Brazzale said she shook Roger awake before running out of the car to find Silvernail, 22, face down on a hill, according to the arrest warrant.

Silvernail had not been wearing a seat belt and had been ejected from the car, the affidavit said.

“I asked Deanna, ‘Give me a sign you’re still there’ and she raised her left arm, moved her head to the left and I heard her try to say ‘Ang,’” Brazzale said in the affidavit.

Brazzale rolled Silvernail onto her back and gave her CPR for a minute. She then realized Roger had stopped screaming and ran back to check on her cousin, who Brazzale had to slap and shake awake, according to the affidavit.

Roger then shouted at Brazzale for help, but the passenger could not get Roger out of the car. Brazzale rushed back to try to give CPR to Silvernail again.

“I tried to reposition Deanna but couldn’t, so I held her,” Brazzale said in the affidavit. “I was yelling for help the entire time I held Deanna for about three minutes. I saw Deanna look at me before her eyes rolled back and she stopped breathing. I felt for a pulse on her wrist but couldn’t feel one.”

A neighbor who had heard the crash soon arrived and called police.

Brazzale was sent to Danbury Hospital, while Roger was extracted from the car by Kent volunteer firefighters. Roger was first sent to nearby Marvelwood School before being flown to Hartford Hospital.

The other driver, Brian Hastings, of Kent, was flown to St. Francis Hospital, where he was treated for 4 1/2 days before being sent to Mt. Sinai, where he stayed for 10 days. He then spent the next month-and-a-half in a hotel while undergoing additional therapy at Mt. Sinai, according to the affidavit.

Hastings, the director of student life at Wooster School in Danbury, said in the affidavit that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and other injuries to the left side of his body.

He now suffers from sensory anxiety and short-term memory loss, Hastings said.

Around 4 p.m. that day, Hastings had appetizers and two beers at Brios Restaurant in Danbury and made several stops before heading home to Kent. State Police said Hasting’s blood alcohol content was less than 0.01 percent, which is equivalent to a “not reported result.”

Hastings told State Police he drives daily on the windy Skiff Mountain Road. He said all he remembers is an SUV coming at him head on.

“The next thing I recall was my wife whispering into my ear,” Hastings said in the affidavit. “I know I was traveling the speed limit on this road. I always do.”

Silvernail’s father, Brazzale and Hastings and could not be reached for comment.