EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 16, 2013

Man indicted nearly two years after Plaistow crash

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — Nearly two years after a 44-year-old man was seriously injured in a Plaistow crash, a Haverhill man has been indicted on charges he caused the accident.

Jeffrey Shepherd, 32, of 14 Hillside St. is charged with felony reckless conduct for speeding and trying to pass other vehicles when his car collided with a Dodge Ram pickup driven by John Helfrich of Plaistow on North Avenue shortly before 9 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2011.

The impact of the crash near the Plaistow-Haverhill line caused Shepherd’s southbound Nissan 370Z to flip over and burst into flames, according to Plaistow Deputy Police Chief Kathleen Jones.

Shepherd and his passenger, Shawn McCormick, 31, of Salem, escaped the burning car with minor injuries. Both were taken by ambulance to Lawrence General Hospital, where they were treated and released.

But Shepherd was trapped in his pickup, with both legs broken, Jones said yesterday. He was flown by medical helicopter to Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Witnesses told police that Shepherd was passing another car when the two vehicles collided in the northbound lane. Shepherd tried to pull off the road but couldn’t avoid hitting the pickup.

North Avenue was closed for three hours as police investigated the crash.

Plaistow police later issued a warrant for Shepherd, but he wasn’t arrested until nearly three months later. The case was then forwarded to the Rockingham County attorney’s office for its review, Jones said.

No details were available yesterday on why the crash has been under investigation for months.

If convicted at trial, Shepherd faces up to seven years in state prison on the reckless conduct charge.

Neither Shepherd nor Helfrich could be reached yesterday for comment.