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Monday, August 22, 2016

Colin’s killer goes back to jail

Killer of popular Charlestown man violates probation
By Will Collette

The redlight camera installed at the installation where Laura Reale
committed her crime.
If you’ve watched local TV news in the past few daysyou may have caught the story about Laura Reale, the convicted killer of Colin Foote, a popular local man who was riding his motorcycle through the intersection at Route One and West Beach Road on May 16, 2010. 

She blew her probation and has been sent back to jail (click here for the ProJo’s coverage).

On that day in 2010, Reale was loaded and blew the red light, hitting and killing Colin in full view of his mother and sister who were trailing behind in their car. According to his mother, it took Colin a long and painful hour to die.

It turns out Reale was a habitual traffic offender who cleverly learned how to stay on the road by gaming the system to avoid losing her license, driving either drunk or high, endangering us all…and killing Colin.

As a result of that tragedy, then state Rep. Donna Walsh spearheaded the passage of “Colin’s Law” to close off some of the loopholes Reale and other habitual offenders had used to evade losing their licenses despite terrible driving records.

Reale received a 10-year sentence with 8 to serve plus two years’ probation and a 5-year license suspension. She ended up only serving 5 years. 

At some point after her release from prison, Reale once again started using drugs – opioids, benzodiazepines and marijuana. According to her lawyer, she is currently on methadone.

Reale has also been charged with buying “urine screens” – clean, dope-free urine samples so she could pass drug tests required as part of her probation.

Reale was ordered back to prison pending the outcome of her August 29 hearing on the alleged probation violation. There may also be additional charges filed.

Maryann and Robin Foote have a civil lawsuit pending against the Reale family arising from Colin’s wrongful death.

In response to the meager pleas for leniency from Reale’s defenders, Robin Foote told Channel 12 News, “How can you feel bad for someone that has no regard for others? That is so self-centered. She killed our son. Would you feel bad for someone that killed your son?”

Because of the Colin Foote tragedy and the efforts of the Foote family, Charlestown now has two sets of red light cameras in operation, one of them covering the West Beach and Route One intersection where Colin was killed.

The Footes and Donna Walsh continued their efforts in the General Assembly to tighten up Rhode Island’s traffic safety laws as experience uncovered other loopholes habitual offenders were exploiting.

Those efforts ended when Rep. Walsh was upset in the 2014 election by “Libertarian” Blake “Flip” Filippi as state representative for District 36 (where Filippi occasionally shows up as a tourist). Filippi has an entirely different set of priorities, most of them involving drawing media attention to himself.

Indeed, one of Filippi’s big crusades has been to try to block the state from collecting tolls on interstate trucking to raise money to fix our woefully degraded highway system. Flip and his Republican colleagues seem to think they can find the money to repair our roads and bridges by finding loose change in the cushions of sofas and chairs in state office buildings.

Flip’s contribution to the conversation about roadway safety was his silly bill to put a ban on car tolls in the state Constitution. For me, I would love to see a Constitutional amendment giving citizens the right to safe roads, bridges and infrastructure.