Ex-Warwick Mayor Avedisian pleads not guilty to leaving scene of fast food fender-bender


Scott Avedisian, Warwick’s longest-serving mayor, entered a not-guilty plea Wednesday morning at Kent County Court to charges he left the scene of a car crash.

The fender-bender occurred in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Post Road at around 6:15 p.m. on March 27. Avedisian is the CEO of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

Avedisian was Warwick Mayor from 2000 through 2018, when he was appointed to his current post by then-governor Gina Raimondo.

Avedisian was driving his RIPTA vehicle, a black Ford Explorer, at the time of the incident, which involved three vehicles. The owners of both cars Avedisian allegedly hit told police they wanted to press charges. No injuries were reported, and police reports state that both vehicles had rear bumper damage.

RIPTA and John Harwood, Avedisian’s attorney, did not respond to requests for comment from the Beacon. A RIPTA spokesperson confirmed to WPRI earlier this week that Avedisian is still an employee at the state agency.

Olivia DaRocha, Press Secretary for Gov. Daniel J. McKee, emailed the Beacon a statement shortly before deadline Wednesday: “The Governor believes this a serious issue but we should wait to see how it unfolds and that it is premature to jump to conclusions until the legal process is complete. The Governor also expects all members of his leadership team to conduct themselves professionally. When all of the facts are delivered, we will respond accordingly.”

The Warwick Police Department confirmed that the collision occurred in the McDonald’s drive thru.  According to published reports, the vehicle driven by Avedisian rear-ended the vehicle in front of him causing it to hit the next car in the line. Avedisian then allegedly motioned for the two other drivers to pull over with him to exchange information. He then allegedly left the scene.

According to the incident report written by Officer David Boardman, officers were able to confirm that the car was Avedisian’s the following day through security footage from McDonald’s, as well as through a photo of the car’s license plate taken by the driver of one of the other cars.

“The collision itself is not captured on camera [but] the two victim vehicles can be seen pulling into parking spots from the drive thru line,” Boardman wrote. “The suspect vehicle then drives straight in an attempt to exit the parking lot; [one of the other cars] then backs up and follows the suspect vehicle out of the parking lot area and onto Post Rd., which is where he was able to capture a cell phone picture of the back of the suspect’s vehicle.”

A written statement from one of the other drivers involved in the crash said that Avedisian “was in shock, eyes bloodshot red,” and the driver believes Avedisian “may have been under the influence.”

Video taken by WPRI videographer Johnny Villella on Friday showed officers at Avedisian’s home taking photographs of the car reportedly involved in the crash. Avedisian referred the reporters’ questions to Harwood.

Avedisian was also involved in a single-car rollover crash in Warwick Neck in 2022, though he did not face any charges for that.

The RIPTA chief’s next court appearance will be on April 25, according to the Rhode Island Current’s Chris Shea.


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