On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 11:40 a.m., an off-duty Rhode Island State Trooper contacted Rhode Island State Police Headquarters to report a motor vehicle crash that had occurred on the Route 44 west service ramp to Route 295 south in Smithfield.
At approximately 11:48 a.m., Troopers responded to the scene and located the vehicle, described as a green 2000 Honda Accord, bearing a Rhode Island registration. The sole female occupant/operator, identified as 45-year-old Dawn E. Utting, of 75 Union Street in Woonsocket, was conscious but appeared disoriented and confused. While speaking with Troopers, Utting indicated that she was upset because her "friend died." Utting went on to relate that her friend, “Bob,” had died approximately 12 hours earlier, and that his lifeless body was inside his apartment, located on Greenville Avenue in Johnston.
Members of the State Police and Johnston Police Department responded to the address in Johnston and located a deceased male, who was determined to be 70-year-old Robert Rossi. Members of the State Police Major Crimes and Criminal Identification Units responded to the scene and are continuing the investigation. There were no apparent signs of foul play. The decedent was transported to the Rhode Island State Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy was performed. The results of this autopsy are pending.
According to Utting, she spent the night at Rossi’s apartment, and when she awoke around 4 a.m., she found him unresponsive and lying on the bathroom floor. Utting remained inside the apartment for several hours and failed to notify authorities. She left the area in the decedent’s vehicle and was en route to her residence in Woonsocket when the accident occurred.
Troopers investigating the accident learned that Utting’s license to operate a motor vehicle had been suspended, and that she had been operating the vehicle in a reckless manner prior to the crash.
Utting was arraigned at State Police Headquarters before a Justice of the Peace on the charges of Failure to Report a Death, Operating a Motor Vehicle on a Suspended License and Reckless Driving. The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office also presented Utting as a probation violator. She had been serving a six-month term of probation on a charge of Domestic Disorderly Conduct. Utting was held overnight at the Adult Correctional Institutions before an arraignment in Kent County District Court before the Honorable Judge Pfeiffer, where she was ordered held without bail and given a pre-trial date of April 26.