Jun 01, 2023

Massachusetts man accused of putting rocks in road to cause crashes

Austin Myette was driving home late one night earlier this month when he spotted something in the road up ahead. Thinking it was a paper bag, he maintained his speed of around 40 mph as he cruised along a dark, heavily wooded stretch of Route 27 in Kingston, Mass. When he was about five feet away, Myette realized it was not a paper bag.

But it was too late. A split second later, he hit a boulder the size of a small cooler.

His 2004 Toyota Corolla dragged the rock along the asphalt, causing the car to skip along the roadway. When the rock came loose, it scraped across the rest of the undercarriage.

“At that point, the car pretty much did a wheelie in the air,” Myette, 23, told The Washington Post. Then it collapsed onto the side of the road, some 600 feet from where he had first hit the rock. The crash shattered the windshield and triggered the air bags, totaling his car.

“It was like a grenade went off,” he added.

That rock hadn’t tumbled down a mountain or fallen off a truck leaving a quarry, the Kingston Police Department wrote in a news release. It was one of at least 13 that someone deliberately placed along the same half-mile stretch of road over the past six months, Lt. Michael Skowyra said. At least 11 cars have hit those rocks since February, causing more than $100,000 in damage to vehicles and, in some cases, injuries to drivers, according to police.

Teenagers playing a prank might commit an act or two of vandalism, Skowyra said, but in his 10-year career, he has never seen “this type of obsessive act over and over again.”

On Tuesday morning, police arrested Cameron Currier, 31, whom they have accused of putting the rocks in the road. Hours later, Currier was arraigned in Plymouth District Court on 11 counts of malicious damage to a motor vehicle and nine counts of attempting to cause such damage. His bail was set at $1,500. His lawyer said the bond was posted and Currier has been released from custody.

Skowyra said more than a dozen drivers have contacted police since the arrest announcement. Detectives are investigating those accounts to determine whether they will recommend more charges to be filed.

Currier’s lawyer, Timothy Shyne, told The Washington Post that his client “wholeheartedly denies the allegations” and called the case against him “pretty thin as far as evidence is concerned.”

About 10 p.m. Monday, Detective Zachary Francis dressed in “full camouflage” attire and camped out on the edge of the road in the area where the rocks had been placed, police wrote in their news release. It was pouring rain, and the few cars he saw in the first couple hours passed without stopping, the release states.

Around 11:50 p.m., Francis saw a white pickup truck pull over to the side of the road, according to the release. He heard the sound of a tailgate open and close, then watched the truck drive past him and turn onto a side road, Francis wrote in his report. Francis checked the road, which he had inspected before the stakeout to make sure it was clear, and found a rock “at the exact location” where the truck had stopped, the report states. He relayed what he had seen to other officers in the area.

Another officer soon reported to Francis that he had found a white 2018 Chevrolet Silverado matching his description at a nearby house, according to the report. The house was close enough for witnesses to hear any crashes on Route 27, police said.

When Francis went to that address, he saw Currier sitting on the front porch, he wrote in his report. Francis touched the Silverado’s hood as he approached — it was hot, he wrote. Currier told police that he had arrived home about a half-hour before but denied putting a rock on Route 27, the report states. He indicated that, after getting home, he smoked a cigarette on his porch, police alleged.

That fit with detectives’ theory about the perpetrator’s motive for putting the rocks along Route 27, also known as Pembroke Street, Francis wrote.

“Investigators have long suspected the individual responsible for these events had some connection to the immediate area, explaining the apparent obsession with placing rocks just in this short stretch of Pembroke Street,” the report states. “It is this investigator’s belief that Currier would remain outside to ‘smoke a cigarette’ to observe the damaging effects of his malicious behavior.”

Shyne, Currier’s attorney, said that based on Francis’s report, he believes the detective merely heard someone get out of a vehicle during his stakeout along Route 27 but never saw the person. If it had been Currier, he would have stood out, because as a road worker, he was wearing brightly colored clothes.

“It’s not as if he wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb,” Shyne said. “I’m a little surprised [the detective] couldn’t identify anybody. He just simply saw a white truck.”

Myette wasn’t the only one to crash into the rock on Aug. 8. After extricating himself from the Corolla, he headed back to inspect what he had hit. While walking, he said he watched a driver in a Toyota Sienna minivan hit the rock, swerve, regain control and stop in front of him.

The two drivers made sure they both were okay, and Myette called 911. Although he suffered a concussion during the crash and was “definitely a little messed up,” he said that two weeks later, he is fully recovered.

His Corolla is not. It was towed away and is a total loss, he said. But, Myette added, he’s lucky enough to have other cars he can use to get around.

That being said, he said he hopes that whoever put the rock in the road is held responsible.

“He’s definitely going to owe me a new car,” Myette said.