N.H. woman accused of killing 2 cyclists must plead today
Darriean Hess, the 20-year-old New Hampshire woman accused of driving into a group of Massachusetts bicyclists, has until noon on Friday to decide if she will plead guilty.
The collision killed two bicyclists and seriously injured two others as they approached a span leading to Hampton as part of the Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century bike ride on September 21, 2013.
Prosecutors allege Hess was not licensed and under the influence of fentanyl, Klonopin, and Percocet at the time of the crash.
The terms of the plea deal Hess is considering have not been made public.
Hess faces nine criminal counts including negligent homicide, manslaughter, second-degree assault, negligent homicide DUI, and second-degree assault with serious bodily injury.
She previously pleaded not guilty.
Her attorney, Anthony Naro, declined to comment.
If Hess declines the plea deal, her case will be on track to go to trial on Jan. 12, said Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway.
Tom Rogers, whose wife of 19 years, Pam Wells, was killed in the crash, said he is hoping Hess opts for the plea to spare his family the pain of a trial.
“It gets it done and you never know what’s going to happen with a trial,” said Rogers, who lives in Hamilton. “From her point of view, it could end up being worse for all she knows. But who’s to know.”
Wells, who was 60, had been the comptroller of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Hess’s family members could not be reached for comment.
On September 21, 2013, Wells was riding her bike north on Route 1A in Seabrook as part of the Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century, a noncompetitive traverse of the coastal roads of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. She was with her friend Margo Heigh, a 54-year-old dental hygienist, along with another friend, Elise Bouchard, a 52-year-old customer service manager, and her boss, Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex.
At 8:30 a.m., Hess drove over the Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge, crossed a double yellow line, and crashed into the bicyclists, killing Wells and Bouchard and injuring Heigh and Uhmeyer, prosecutors allege.
Hess, who had no driver’s license, had been stopped for speeding in nearly the exact spot just hours before the fatal crash. At 12:45 a.m, she had been pulled over for driving nearly twice the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.
Prosecutors allege that after she was stopped for speeding, she called a well-known drug dealer in the area, who took her car keys and brought her back to her apartment in nearby Hampton. There, prosecutors allege, Cindy Sheppard supplied her with fentanyl.
Rogers said his family has struggled with their loss but managed to move forward, too. His son is a college freshman. His daughter just received her first college acceptance.
“I think Pam would have been pleased,” he said.
Reach Sarah Schweitzer at email@example.com.