Andrew Baird IV, Waitsfield, was sentenced to eight to 16 years in prison for his role in a car crash that left Lily Stilwell, Fayston, paralyzed from the waist down. He was charged with driving under the influence with serious bodily harm resulting.
Baird was sentenced in Washington County District Courthouse by Judge H.E. VanBenthuysen on December 19.
Baird and three others are charged in relationship to the October 14, 2016, car crash in Moretown. He and friends, including Stilwell, were drinking in Waitsfield. On the way home, Baird lost control of the car and it rolled. Stilwell was gravely injured during the accident and begged Baird to call 911. Two other friends, Jeremy Champney, Moretown, and Dakota Griswold, Waterbury, drove up on the scene of the accident and, with Baird, pulled Stilwell out of the car onto the side of the road and then lifted her again to put her into the other car and drove her to their home in Moretown. Only then was 911 called.
Stilwell was unresponsive by the time the ambulance arrived and her cervical spine was found to be broken in several places, according to the police report issued several days after the accident. After surgery and several months of rehab, she has use of her arms but is paralyzed from the waist down.
Griswold, Baird and Champney were all charged with reckless endangerment for failing to call 911 immediately on Stilwell’s behalf, despite her pleading. AJ Wimble, Waitsfield, who supplied the alcohol to the others, all of whom were underage at the time, also faces multiple charges for supplying the alcohol. He is in jail pending his trial. Griswold’s charges are also pending. Champney was sentenced in August to two years’ probation and 90 days of house arrest.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Stilwell’s parents, Tina and Craig Rich, read an emotional statement to the court. Tina Rich said that her once independent daughter now needed help with everything she did and that all of their lives had been changed and complicated forever. She recalled being ushered out of the ICU when Lily was in the hospital after the accident so that medical staff could try to revive her daughter when she coded two times.
She turned to Baird and reminded him that he had been welcomed in their home and treated like a son. She said that it breaks her heart to have seen the bruises on Lily’s ankles from when she was carried from car to car and said she brushed dirt and debris from Lily’s hair for a week.
Baird issued an apology to Stilwell and her parents and the court before Judge VanBenthuysen read his sentence. The judge, using the words “egregious behavior” several times, made clear that deterrence was an important part of his sentence.
He said that the October 14 incident was not just an accident, noting the intentionality of Baird not calling 911 and the intentionality of moving Stilwell.
“The intentionality that makes this more egregious is your intention to hide the beer cans. You took a bad situation, a car crash, and you turned it into a life sentence for Lily,” he told Baird.
“Lily is smart and determined and I suspect she’ll move forward and this won’t define her. But this is going to define you going forward. You’re going to have a relatively long period of incarceration. It’s very important to deter others from making the kind of horrible, life-changing decision you made in the immediate aftermath of the crash,” the judge said.
“Mr. Baird, you have created a tragedy for two families here, for Lily’s and your own,” he added.