NEWBURYPORT, Massachusetts — A Maine man accused of plowing into an Amesbury used car lot Wednesday night while high on heroin was ordered held on $2,500 cash bail yesterday at Newburyport District Court.
Wearing a Texas-themed t-shirt, Gage Ashbaugh, 41, of Turner, Maine, appeared twitchy and was talkative during his arraignment yesterday. At one point a white-shirted court officer ordered Ashbaugh to settle down. He was charged with driving while under the influence of drugs, heroin possession and wanton destruction of property less than $250.
Essex County prosecutor Steven Patten asked for bail after looking at Ashbaugh’s criminal record, which included misdemeanor drug and theft charges, and a reckless driving conviction in Texas. He also received nine speeding tickets within 10 years while living in Maine.
“We do not believe he will voluntarily return to the Commonwealth,” Patten said.
Ashbuagh’s court-appointed attorney said his client had every intention to face the charges, adding he was a fisherman who drove from Maine to Boston each day for work.
Should Ashbaugh post bail he was ordered not to drive until the case against him is over. He is due back in court July 17 for a pre-trial hearing.
According to Amesbury police Officer Ronald Guilmette, at around 10:20 p.m. he responded to Auto Plus on Macy Street after receiving a report of a large bang. By the time he and Officer Barry Coker responded they saw a black pick-up truck with its engine running that had crashed into a fence and a parked car.
“The truck had crashed into a small gray sedan and pushed it into a second vehicle causing damage to both vehicles,” Guilmette wrote in his report.
Guilmette checked on the driver’s condition only to find him passed out behind the wheel. Upon opening the door, Ashbaugh woke up and was ordered to place the car in park as it was still in drive. As he did so, he reached over to the center console where he was seen manipulating an unknown item. He was then ordered out of the car and not to reach for anything.
Unsteady on his feet, Ashbaugh almost fell down and appeared confused, asking the officers what was going on. Police quickly determined that Ashbaugh was under the influence of a narcotic and noticed fresh track marks on his arms consistent with needle use. He told police he was taking suboxone which is used by people who are addicted to heroin.
When Guilmette asked if there was anything in the car he should know about, Ashbaugh said he thought there might be a gun. Officers checked the vehicle but found no firearms. They did find a small baggie containing a brown powdery substance consistent with heroin in the center console along with an uncapped needle, a spoon and a napkin, according to the police report.
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