Island man in head-on crash was drunk, police said


Oak Bluffs police arrested a Vineyard Haven man on Monday who they said sideswiped a parked car along Beach Road in Edgartown, nearly hit a child near Bend-in-the-Road beach, then collided head on with a taxi near Hooked restaurant, despite the taxi driver’s attempt to avoid a collision by stopping his vehicle.

Oak Bluffs police arrested Nicholas A. Barbera, 27, on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs. Police also cited him for negligent operation of a vehicle, marked lane violations, speeding, and having an open container of alcohol in his car.

He was arrested at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, where he was taken by ambulance and treated for minor injuries following the crash.

The taxi driver, J. Davis Millett, was also taken to the hospital by ambulance and released a short time later. There were no passengers in the taxi at the time of the accident, police said.

According to the police report, emergency 9-1-1 operators received a call about 1 pm on Monday from someone who said a silver vehicle struck a car on Beach Road, narrowly missing a child. Two minutes later the same vehicle struck a Stagecoach taxi driven by Mr. Millett, who saw the accident coming.

“Mr. Millett stated that he had been traveling south on Sea View Avenue,” Officer Jim Morse wrote in his report. “He observed the Ford Focus traveling north, passing vehicles in his lane of travel. He realized that there was going to be a collision and was able to stop his vehicle completely before the collision.”

Officer Morse found Mr. Barbera standing beside the road, about 50 feet from his vehicle.

“I asked him what happened,” Officer Morse wrote. “He stated he did not know. I asked him where he was coming from. Barbera stated that he was coming from Oak Bluffs. This response was inconsistent with the direction that his vehicle was facing.”

Officer Morse said he removed five cans of cold beer, an unopened bottle of liquor, three empty liquor bottles, and nine empty “nip” bottles from Mr. Barbera’s car.

During questioning at the hospital later, Mr. Barbera admitted to drinking beer and vodka up to one hour before the accident, according to the police report. He failed several sobriety tests, but refused a blood test to determine his blood alcohol concentration. Police immediately suspended his driver’s license.

According to court records, Mr. Barbera is currently on probation following a conviction for assault in 2012.