SEABROOK, N.H. — In a surprising twist in the case of a New Hampshire teenager charged with plowing into a group of bicyclists who were on a 100-mile ride, killing two Massachusetts women, police made a second arrest Wednesday night.
Earlier Wednesday, the alleged driver, Darriean Hess, 19, was arraigned by video conference in Hampton District Court on charges of negligent homicide and second-degree assault.
But Hampton police said later in the evening that they had also arrested Cindy Sheppard, 48, of Hampton, and charged her with providing drugs to Hess early on the morning of the crash Saturday. Sheppard is also alleged to have allowed Hess to drive without a license.
Sheppard was charged with selling a controlled substance and an offense of allowing an improper person to operate a vehicle, police said. The relationship between the women was not clear Wednesday night.
Police said that some time after 1:30 Saturday morning, Sheppard supplied Hess with narcotics and shortly after 8 a.m. allowed Hess to drive a 2002 Honda, even though Sheppard knew Hess did not have a driver’s license.
Sheppard is being held on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Seabrook, police said.
At Hess’s arraignment, David Kelley, a retired State Police major, testified that he saw the teenager driving so fast over a bridge that he assumed someone was chasing her.
“I thought I would see cruisers following behind,” Kelley told police at the scene.
Authorities say Hess veered across Route 1A before fatally striking the two cyclists, who were taking part in the lengthy ride along the coast. After the crash, Hess told Kelley she had taken her eyes off the road for a few seconds, according to court documents released Wednesday.
The details of the crash, which left two other riders seriously injured, came out at the court proceeding, where Hess was ordered held on $50,000 bail. Because the offenses are felonies, under New Hampshire law no plea was entered on Hess’s behalf.
Hess, who had been stopped for speeding just hours before the accident in virtually the same location, showed little emotion during the hearing, which was conducted via video conference from the county jail.
In bail arguments, prosecutor Barry Newcomb said that although Hess had no criminal record, the seriousness of the charges warranted high bail.
“We’re concerned that she is a risk to public safety,” Newcomb said.
With family in Alaska, he said, she also posed a fight risk.
Prosecutors have not said whether they believe Hess was texting before the crash.
Hess’s lawyer, Anthony Naro, said Hess had lived in Seabrook nearly her entire life and was not about to leave her immediate family, which he described as tight-knit.
“Her core is in Seabrook,” said Naro, a public defender. “There's absolutely no flight risk.”
Hess, who is engaged to be married, agreed to be held on house arrest, Naro said. The judge rejected that option.
Naro said that Hess was traumatized by the fatal crash, and that she did not plan to drive soon, if ever.
She has not been eating, he said.
Judge Mark Weaver scheduled a probable cause hearing for Oct. 8.
Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers were killed in the crash. The two were friends who had trained for the Tri-State Seacoast Century ride together, along with Margo Heigh, a Danvers woman injured in the crash. A fourth rider — Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex — was also injured.
Uhmeyer was treated for fractured neck vertebrae, a concussion, and bleeding behind the eye, among other injuries, court records stated. Heigh was treated for broken bones.
Gordon Wiley, a friend of Bouchard’s who attended the court hearing, said afterward that it was right that Hess was held on high bail.
“I wanted to make sure she stays where she is,” he said.
Wiley said he and his wife are devastated by Bouchard’s death, describing her as a bright personality who connected with nearly everyone she met. “She became part of our family,” he said.
Wiley questioned whether Hess was truly remorseful for her alleged actions.
“I didn’t see any tears rolling down her face,” he said. “She just wants to get out.”
Cassandra Clifton, Hess’s sister, said the family is not doing well in the aftermath of the crash.
“Everybody’s devastated,” she said. Hess is so distraught she can hardly walk, Clifton said.
“She just wants to be close to her family,” she said.
Clifton said members of the family are not sure they can come up with the bail money.
Magnus Hess, her brother, said the family was traumatized.
“We mourn for the people that were lost in this tragedy and pray for the ones that are injured,” he said.
In court records, police said that visibility was clear, and that a driver should have been able to see the group of cyclists from several hundred feet away. Cyclists were traveling single file on the far right side of the road.
After the crash, Hess crossed back into her lane, then into the breakdown lane, where she “continued to crash into roadway delineators,” police said. She then crashed into a wooden Seabrook town sign.