HAMPTON, N.H. – As a suspected drug dealer was arraigned Thursday on charges of supplying a powerful narcotic to a 19-year-old who then allegedly struck and killed two Massachusetts cyclists, a third person was charged in connection with the crash.
Cindy Sheppard, 48, who faces separate charges of distributing heroin and cocaine from a June arrest, is accused of providing the pain reliever Fentanyl to Darriean Hess, who authorities said veered across Route 1A in Hampton on Saturday morning and slammed into a group of cyclists participating in an organized 100-mile ride, killing two of the cyclists and injuring two others.
For the second consecutive day, court documents shed new light on the events leading up to the fatal crash, while raising further questions about its cause.
Prosecutors said investigators are trying to determine whether Hess had taken the drug before getting behind the wheel. Police said Hess, an unlicensed driver, told a witness to the crash that she had taken her eyes off the road for a few seconds.
Hours after Sheppard was arraigned, police said the owner of the car involved in the crash was charged for allowing Hess to drive on the night of the crash despite knowing she was unlicensed.
Scott Martin, 19, of Seabrook, was summoned to appear in court on Oct. 23 on the violation.
Sheppard, who police have described as a “significant source of heroin” in the area, was ordered held on $10,000 bail. In a separate court hearing related to the previous drug dealing charges, she was ordered held on $25,000 bail.
Additionally, Sheppard was charged with knowingly allowing Hess to drive a car without a license, a violation. After police stopped Hess for speeding around 12:45 a.m. Saturday, about seven hours before the crash, they would not allow Hess to continue driving because she did not have a license, and released the car to Sheppard, who lives nearby.
But Hess told police that Sheppard gave her back the keys to the 2002 Honda “with the knowledge that she would drive the vehicle in the morning,” even though police had told her Hess was unlicensed.
Sheppard pleaded not guilty to the charge. Police said Hess has never held a valid license in any state.
Hess told police she had spent the night at Sheppard’s home. The relationship between the women was not known, but police said that two friends who were looking for Hess early Saturday learned that she was “with Cindy.”
Prosecutors say they expect to file additional charges against Sheppard in connection with the crash.
On Wednesday, Hess was arraigned on charges of negligent homicide in the deaths of Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, friends who had trained for the lengthy bike ride along the coast all summer.
A witness told police Hess was driving so fast he assumed she was being chased.
“I thought I would see cruisers following behind,” David Kelley said.
In court records, police said that visibility was clear, and that a driver should have been able to see the riders from several hundred feet away.
Hess was ordered held on $50,000 bail. Her lawyer and family said she is distraught over the crash.
In court Thursday, Sheppard’s lawyer, Neil Reardon, argued for low bail, saying Sheppard had no criminal convictions and deep ties to the area. Sheppard has had both legs amputated below the knee, and is scheduled to undergo surgery, he said.
Steve Champey, a prosecutor with the Hampton Police Department, argued that Sheppard should be detained on high bail “for the safety of the community.” A probable cause hearing was scheduled for Sheppard for Oct. 9.
One of the injured cyclists, Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, said in a statement that he was “deeply grieved” by the deaths of Bouchard and Wells.
“Elise Bouchard and I worked together and were friends for nine years. Pamela Wells, I met that morning. All of us were doing what we loved to do,” he wrote.
Uhmeyer said he was happy to be alive, and pleased to be going home to his family to “continue my healing process.”
He said that drivers and cyclists alike have a “responsibility to maintain control and not jeopardize the safety of others.”Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.