EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 26, 2013

2nd woman arrested in fatal bike crash

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SEABROOK — Hampton Police last night arrested a second person in connection to Saturday’s crash that killed two bicyclists and injured two others on a Route 1A bridge between Hampton and Seabrook.

Police say Cindy Sheppard, 48, 51 Ocean Blvd., Hampton, N.H., sold 19-year-old Darriean Hess drugs early in the morning of the crash, and then, shortly after 8 a.m., she allowed Hess to drive, knowing that she didn’t have a license.

Sheppard was arrested on warrants, and charged with one felony count for the sale of controlled/narcotic drugs and a violation level offense of allowing an improper person to operate a vehicle.

Sheppard is being held on $10,000 cash bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in the 10th Circuit Court in Seabrook today.

Hess, 19, was arrested Tuesday at her home and charged with two counts each of negligent homicide and second degree assault during her arraignment yesterday morning at Seabrook Circuit Court. Each charge is a Class B felony, carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in jail and fines up to $4,000, per charge. Bail was set at $50,000 cash or surety.

Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, were killed in the accident. Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, and Margo Heigh, 54, of Danvers, were both injured and transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Washington Street resident, wearing an orange county jail jumpsuit, remained silent during her roughly 10-minute arraignment via video conference as Hampton police prosecutor Barry Newcomb asked Judge Mark Weaver for $50,000 cash bail due to the seriousness of her alleged crimes. Newcomb added Hess could be a flight risk due to having family in Alaska. Hess is currently being held at Rockingham County Jail in Brentwood.

In the audience, her brothers and sister watched as Hess’ court appointed attorney Tony Naro argued for bail to be set at $15,000, disputing the notion she was a flight risk saying all her brothers and her fiance lived locally. He also argued her family had no way to raise $50,000.

“These aren’t rich people,” Naro said, adding that such a high bail would essentially keep his client behind bars.

Also in the audience were at least two friends of Elise Bouchard who could be heard grumbling when Hess’ attorney tried to paint his client in a more favorable light.

Weaver sided with prosecutors and agreed to $50,000 cash or surety bail. She is due back in court Oct. 8 for probable cause hearing. Due to the seriousness of the charges, Hess is likely to indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury and face trial in superior court.

Outside the Seabrook courthouse, Hess’ sister, Cassandra Clifton, told almost a dozen reporters and cameramen that Darriean wanted to be home with her family but due to the high bail imposed by Weaver, Clifton was unsure if that would happen.

“We’re not doing well at all,” Clifton said.

Also addressing the contingent of reporters outside the courthouse, Darriean’s older brother, Magnus Hess said the family was completely traumatized and they mourned for the victims of Saturday’s accident.

The investigation into what prompted Hess, who was traveling southbound, to cross the center line of the Neil R. Underwood Bridge around 8:30 a.m. and strike bicyclists traveling north continues. Earlier this week neither police Chief Jamie Sullivan or Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams would comment on whether alcohol or texting was involved but said the crash appears to have been the result of driver inattention and excessive speed.

Reams wouldn’t comment on how fast Hess was traveling other than to say that it was excessive and that witnesses were surprised by how fast she was driving. The county attorney said it was still unknown where Hess was going at the time of Saturday’s accident. As part of its investigation, police obtained a blood sample from Hess that is being examined for alcohol and other substances. They also confiscated her cellphone.

According to the report of Hampton police Detective Alexander Reno, Hess admitted she had “taken her eyes off the road for a few seconds.” Reno went on to write that weather conditions were clear and it would have been reasonable for a driver to “have seen the bicyclist approaching northbound from a distance of several hundred feet.”

Located on Route 1A, the bridge connects Hampton Beach and Seabrook Beach. The two-lane bridge, which is about 300 yards long, arches over the tidal waters connecting Hampton Harbor to the ocean.

Less than eight hours before Saturday’s fatal accident, Hess was pulled over for speeding over the same bridge and told police she didn’t have a license. Hampton police confirmed that Hess, driving the same 2002 Honda Civic involved in the crash, was stopped on Ocean Boulevard at 12:45 a.m. Saturday after cross the bridge at a high rate of speed. A Hampton police officer using a radar gun clocked Hess at 59 mph; the speed limit is 30 mph.

The Honda Civic is registered to 19-year-old Scott Martin of Nashua, N.H. As of yesterday, Martin has not been charged for allowing an unlicensed driver from operating his car.