WESTERLY, RI — Westerly Police arrested Toll Gate Assistant Principal Todd Grimes on a DUI charge Feb. 2 at 12:50 a.m. near 10 Oak St., Westerly, after watching him drive his car in the middle of the road.
Westerly Police Chief Paul Gingerella said officers pulled Grimes over after spotting him driving a blue 2018 Toyota Camry in the middle of the road and noting additional traffic violations, and identified him.
After brief questioning, the officers asked him to perform sobriety tests, after which the officers arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The officers transported Grimes to Westerly Police Headquarters, 60 Airport Road, Westerly, where Grimes refused to take a breath test of his blood alcohol level, Gingerella said.
Gingerella noted the danger driving under the influence poses to the community. He said his department responded to a fatal Feb. 16 strike of a pedestrian by a driver in the same part of the road Grimes was stopped on two weeks earlier.
In the latest incident, at Oak Street near Haswell Street, responding officers found an unresponsive man with severe trauma in the road. They administered lifesaving measures until he was transported to the Westerly Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by hospital staff.
The driver in that incident, Matthew J. Lyons, 36, of Westerly, was taken into police custody for suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. At the station he submitted to a breathalyzer test, registering a BAC content of 0.109. Lyons was charged with Driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, resulting in Death. He was arraigned today at Fourth District Court and released on surety bail.
Grimes’ arrest, originally reported by The Westerly Sun, brought to local readers’ attention by a Channel 10 news report, is the second DUI arrest of a Warwick Public School official in the public eye this month. Warwick School Committee member Karen Bachus was arrested over the weekend on Feb. 18 and charged with DUI and assault of an officer at the station.
According to his biography on Toll Gate High’s website, Grimes began his career in 1994 as a health and physical education teacher at Chariho Regional High School, spending his final two years at Chariho as Dean of Students. In 2012 he began his administrative career at Ponaganset High School, serving three years as Associate Principal. Grimes followed that with a brief stint as Assistant Principal of Student Services at North Kingstown High School before being named Principal at Westerly High School in August 2015. Grimes joined the administrative team at Toll Gate High School as Assistant Principal for Climate and Culture in 2018.
Warwick Public Schools Superintendent Lynn Dambruch, when asked by email if Grimes had been suspended as a result of his DUI arrest, wrote, “Mr. Grimes is employed as an assistant principal at Toll Gate High School. The Warwick School Department has followed all reporting protocols.”
In response to additional questions, Dambruch wrote, “Currently, there is no policy regarding school staff facing DUI charges when they are not at work,” and, “The Warwick School Department does address substance abuse issues with employees through the Employee Assistance Program.”
Grimes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Grimes is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on the charge in Fourth District Court March 10.
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