BRENTWOOD — One by one, neighbors and rescuers took the witness stand in Rockingham Superior Court yesterday to describe a November night they will never forget.
On Nov. 20, 2010, two Derry families were left to cope with the death of one teenager and serious injuries to another when the car they were in struck a tree and flipped over on Frost Road in Derry.
Derry police remained tight-lipped for more than a year, refusing to comment on their investigation of the crash that killed Korey Traficante, 17. It wasn’t until 13 months later that negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated charges were brought against the survivor, Cameron Dearborn.
Dearborn, now 20, is standing trial this week in Rockingham Superior Court in the death of his best friend. If convicted of negligent homicide, Dearborn could face seven and half to 15 years in state prison.
Testimony in the case began Monday and resumed yesterday with witnesses describing the horrific accident. The defense contends Traficante was the driver of the crushed Toyota Saturn.
But three neighbors who heard the crash at 11 p.m. and a Derry police and firefighter testified that Traficante’s body was found in the back seat while the injured Dearborn was lying in the front seat, apparently trapped.
They described hearing screaming as they rushed toward the car, finding Dearborn trying to get out through the smashed windshield.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, my best friend is dead,’” testified John Goterch, 65.
Goterch, who lives at 20 Frost Road, said he was watching television when he heard a scraping noise and then a thump outside. He recalled looking out and saw a car leaning against a tree in his yard.
He called 911 and ran out to help. The car, which hit a stone wall before hitting the tree, had since fallen onto its side.
Goterch said he saw Traficante’s lifeless body in the back seat and a hysterical Dearborn in the front. He smelled gas and ran to get a hose in case a fire broke out.
Minutes later, other neighbors, police and fire officials arrived at the scene. The accident left a lasting impression on Goterch, who had lived there for 36 years.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said.
Goterch was followed on the witness stand by his next-door neighbors, Al and Mark Jarvis of 18 Frost Road.
The father and son told the jury of seven men and seven women about the screams they heard coming from the car, which belonged to a female acquaintance of the two teens.
“He was hollering to get out of the car,” Al Jarvis said. “He was frightened.”
Derry firefighter and emergency medical technician Thomas Porter testified how he helped get Dearborn out of the car.
“He was yelling at the time to save his friend, not save him,” Porter said. “He was yelling for his father, saying he loved him. He said to tell his dad he was sorry.”
The families of the two young men sat on opposite sides of the courtroom.
Dearborn, who now lives in Danville, lived with his family at 5 Frost Road — a short distance from the crash scene.
That night, when help arrived, he screamed uncontrollably, according to Porter and Derry police Officer Joel Jackson.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m going to hell. I did bad things,’” Porter said.
After the accident, Derry police would not confirm reports there had been a party at Dearborn’s home.
Jackson testified Dearborn said he drank beer before the crash. He was arrested on drug and alcohol charges last summer in an unrelated case.
Porter and Jackson said a woman’s purse was found at the scene, making them to wonder if a third person was thrown from the car. They later confirmed there was not a third victim.
Dearborn was flown by medical helicopter to a Boston hospital for treatment of a back injury.
He was arrested in January 2012 and has been free since on $5,000 cash bail.
His attorney, Kenneth Bernard asked the witnesses if Dearborn said he was responsible for Traficante’s death.
“Was he indicating to you, ‘I just killed my friend?’” Bernard asked.
The witnesses agreed Dearborn did not tell them he had killed his friend.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant County Attorney Benjamin LeDuc.
The trial is scheduled to continue today.