Former Bristol firefighter sentenced for special hazards crash

Clayton Hardon, 24, a former Bristol volunteer firefighter pleaded guilty today in Providence County Superior Court to all charges stemming from a July 16, 2011 incident in which he took a Bristol Fire Department special hazards vehicle from the Dreadnaught’s fire company for a joyride before crashing it on Woodlawn Avenue.

Judge Netti C. Vogel Vogel punished Mr. Hardon with a three year suspended sentence, five years deferred, to run consecutive; 500 hours of community service; and $110,000 in restitution.

On the night before Mr. Hardon was to leave Bristol to return to his hometown of Devon, Penn., he entered the Dreadnaught fire company on the corner of Church Street and State Street intoxicated and took the department’s special hazards vehicle for a joyride.

According to witnesses that night, the truck hopped onto the curb as it headed east on Woodlawn Avenue at a high rate of speed. After striking a tree, the vehicle crossed over the road and struck another tree on a lawn on the north side of the road. The vehicle, with its emergency lights flashing, flipped onto its roof. The driver, later identified as Mr. Hardon, crawled out of the vehicle and ran off before police captured him nearby. The special hazards vehicle was a total loss.

Mr. Hardon was charged with one felony of driving a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner; and three misdemeanors – reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage, and first offense driving under the influence of alcohol.

Under a plea agreement, Mr. Hardon was sentenced to one year suspended, 50 hours community service, alcohol counseling, and instructed to write a letter of apology to the Bristol Fire Department for the DUI offense; one year suspended to run consecutive and 100 hours of community service for the reckless driving charge; one year suspended to run consecutive and 100 hours of community service for the charge of leaving the scene; and five years deferred, to run consecutive, and 250 hours of community service for driving a motor vehicle without consent of the owner.

Mr. Haydon was also ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution to be paid by the seventh year of his sentence.

Bristol fire chief Robert Martin said that he just wants the incident to be put behind the department, and learn from the experience.

“It’s over,” he said after learning of Mr. Hardon’s sentence. “It’s a blemish on the department. I believe justice is served. There was a strong effort with the police department” to reach the plea agreement.

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