23 Aug 2014
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Fatal Crash Driver: I Took My 'Eyes Off the Road for a Few Seconds'

Darriean Hess allegedly described what happened to a retired trooper who witnessed the crash and Hess' actions before it.

Fatal Crash Driver: I Took My 'Eyes Off the Road for a Few Seconds'

[Story originally posted at 10:58 a.m. on Sept. 25]

The unlicensed teen driver who caused Saturday's fatal crash allegedly told a retired state trooper at the scene that she had "taken her eyes off of the road for a few seconds" on Hampton’s Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge before hitting four cyclists at a high speed.

Darriean Hess, 19, of Seabrook, is set for arraignment in Hampton District Court at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on two counts of Class B felony negligent homicide and two Class B felony counts of second-degree assault for her role in Saturday's fatal crash. Hess was arrested Tuesday.

Among the pieces of evidence local authorities will bring forward Wednesday during the arraignment is a retired state trooper's testimony outlining Hess’ actions prior to the collision that killed two cyclists and injured two others.

An affidavit from Hampton Police Detective Alex Reno that states David Kelley, a retired major in the New Hampshire State Police, said he witnessed Hess "crest the top of the bridge at a speed that he believed was unreasonable for the conditions of the road.” 

"I thought I would see cruisers following behind," Kelley told Reno, who also wrote in his report that Kelley indicated Hess looked like she were driving as if police were in "pursuit." 

Kelley "observed her with her eyes open and head up" after the 2002 Honda Civic she was driving crossed the center line into the bridge’s northbound lane, strike the bicyclists, continue along the northbound lane while hitting “roadway deliniators," and come to a stop after crashing into the Seabrook Beach welcome sign south of the bridge.

Kelley, according to Reno, "was next to where the Honda came to a rest." Kelley told police he "exited his vehicle and immediately approached" Hess, who at that point allegedly told Kelley that she had "taken her eyes off of the road for a few seconds."

Reno describes in his report the many grisly details he saw upon arriving on scene, including "notable amounts of blood and human tissue" and bike parts strewn across the road.

Reno also states that Hess should've been able to see the cyclists in the other lane, although he goes into no detail about whether she may have been using a cell phone or impaired behind the wheel.

"On this day visibility was clear on the Underwood Bridge and it would have been reasonable for a driver to have seen the bicyclist approaching north bound [sic] from a distance of several hundred feet," wrote Reno in his report.


More to come.

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