Thursday, January 7, 2010 2:13 a.m.

North Providence

DUI suspect had highest alcohol level recorded

01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By Richard C. Dujardin

Journal Staff Writer


A North Providence man who crashed into a road sign late Monday was tested as having a blood-alcohol level six times the legal limit — believed to be the highest reading on a Breathalyzer in Rhode Island, according to the state police.

Stanley Kobierowski, 34, was tested after he crashed into an electronic message board on Route 95 near Providence Place. He tested at the scene with a blood-alcohol level of .489 and then .491. Kobierowski was released on personal recognizance after a bail hearing and will face another hearing Friday on charges of drunken driving and resisting arrest.

Brown University officials confirmed yesterday that until last year, Kobierowski was a chef at the residence of Brown president Ruth Simmons. He was also a chef at the former LaLuna restaurant and currently works at Providence’s Down City Café.

Kobierowski spent most of yesterday at Rhode Island Hospital’s detoxification unit. The police said they had to delay his arraignment until late in the afternoon largely because the hospital would not allow him out of its care until his blood alcohol had dropped below the legal limit of .08. When he arrived at the hearing at the state police barracks in Lincoln at about 4:45 p.m., he was wearing khaki shorts, a sweatshirt and a bandage on his chin. He was trembling slightly.

Two experts on detoxification and alcohol detection said later that in many ways, Kobierowski is lucky to be alive.

“For the average individual, there is a very severe risk of death when you start to approach a reading of .4,” said James Harasymiw, director of Alcohol Detection Services in Big Bend, Wis. He is slated to speak at a conference in Washington next week on a new screening designed to detect people who have been drinking heavily over the previous four to six weeks even though they appear to be sober.

“He is in a very small class of people because most people — even heavy drinkers — would be unconscious or approaching death to get up to .5. The danger with this guy is that with that kind of tolerance, you may appear to be fine one moment and unconscious the next.”

The state police said yesterday that they were still trying to find out where Kobierowski, of 29 Campbell Ave., North Providence, had been prior to his late-night crash on Route 95. “He said he was coming from home, but in that case, he was going in the wrong direction,” said Maj. Steven G. O’Donnell, the superintendent of the state police.

The police said they have been unable to determine how many drinks Kobierowski may have had. Amitava Dasgupta, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, said much depends on the person’s size. He said 15 years ago, he treated a man in Chicago who had a blood alcohol level of .8 — and survived. “The guy had been drinking all afternoon with his friends, then got into a car and had an accident.”

Dasgupta said that for a man to reach a level of .491, he would have had to be drinking whiskey, rum or tequila — 6 to 10 shots — within two or three hours.

Harasymiw calculated it differently, estimating that the man would have had to have had roughly 24 drinks — defined as a 12-ounce glass of beer or a shot and a half of whiskey — over six hours.

The police said that when Kobierowski hit the sign about 11:51 p.m. Monday, he appeared intoxicated, slurring his words. When Troopers Jeffrey L’Heureux and Nuno Vasconcelos instructed him to exit his vehicle, he had trouble getting out of his seat. Once he stood up, troopers say, they had to hold his arms to take him to the rear of his car.

But as they did so, they say, Kobierowski grabbed onto the car and refused to move, forcing troopers to pick him up and carry him from the lane of traffic into the breakdown lane, where he was unable to carry out any of the sobriety tests.

In his hearing yesterday before bail commissioner Bernard Limos, Kobierowski was released on $1,000 personal recognizance pending a District Court hearing on Friday.

As he left the state police barracks, he told a crowd of reporters that he had “nothing to say.” When someone asked if he needed a ride home, he said, “I already have a ride” and proceeded across the street to sit down at a bus stop.

Brown officials declined yesterday to talk about why Kobierowski, who had a clear police record, had left his job at Brown. The Down City Café, his current employer, also declined to comment.