October 11, 2013

New England Dispatches

From news services

HAMPTON, N.H.

Police: Woman dispensed drug to driver before crash

A New Hampshire woman administered a painkilling drug to a 19-year-old Seabrook woman about eight hours before the younger woman drove into a group of cyclists, killing two women from Massachusetts, according to police.

At a probable cause hearing Wednesday, police said Cindy Sheppard, 48, cut open a fentanyl patch and squeezed the drug onto Darriean Hess’ finger. They said Sheppard wanted to calm Hess down after the younger woman had been pulled over for speeding, according to the Portsmouth Herald.

Eight hours later, the unlicensed Hess was speeding again in the same stretch of road when she crossed the center line and hit a group of cyclists participating in an annual ride.

Killed in the crash were 60-year-old Pamela Wells, of South Hamilton, Mass., and 52-year-old Elise Bouchard, of Danvers, Mass. Two others were injured.

Sheppard, of Hampton, has been charged with a felony count of selling drugs and a violation of letting an unlicensed driver operate a vehicle. At the hearing Wednesday, Judge Mark Weaver ruled there was enough probable cause for police to arrest her. She is being held on $25,000 bail.

Hess, who was charged with two counts of negligent homicide, is free on $50,000 bail.

NORTH CONWAY, N.H.

Police look for 14-year-old missing since Wednesday

Police in North Conway say so far there is nothing suspicious about the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl.

Abigail Hernandez left Kennett High School around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon and police believe she made it home. But when her mother arrived home, the girl was gone.

The search continued Thursday. Conway Police Chief Edward Wagner says police are treating it as a missing person case “and nothing more.” Local, state and federal police agencies are involved in the investigation.

Hernandez is 5 feet, 4-inches tall and weighs 118 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing black stretch pants and a gray sweatshirt.

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.

Man, 51, dies of injuries from laboratory explosion

Authorities say a man burned in a laboratory explosion in North Andover has died of his injuries.

The Essex County district attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that the 51-year-old man injured at a Dow Chemical Co.-owned facility died. His name was not immediately released.

The North Andover fire department said the man was working alone when the explosion occurred just before noon on Wednesday. He was airlifted to a Boston hospital.

The facility temporarily closed after the incident. The cause was being investigated by the fire department and state fire marshal.

BOSTON

School bus drivers return to work after one-day strike

Boston school bus drivers are back on the job, but city officials don’t know yet if the situation is permanent.

Drivers went to work Thursday morning, two days after a surprise strike stranded about 33,000 children.

The one-day work stoppage had parents scrambling to get kids to school, with police cruisers giving rides to kids, and public transit offering free rides.

Leaders of the drivers’ union and the city’s bus contactor, Veolia Transportation Inc., met for about 10 hours Wednesday to iron out grievances. Drivers claimed the company was not honoring the contract, which bars strikes.

A Veolia spokeswoman says negotiations are ongoing.

PLYMOUTH, Mass.

Trooper pleads innocent in crash that killed two

A Massachusetts state trooper charged with being drunk in a head-on car crash that killed a mother and daughter returning home from a Red Sox game has been released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty Thursday to several charges.

John Basler, 25, of Kingston, entered the pleas in Plymouth District Court to charges of drunken driving, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, possession of a firearm while intoxicated and improper storage of a firearm.

Basler was injured in the crash and used a cane in court Thursday. He did not comment outside court.

Basler was off duty and coming from a party where friends say he had one or two beers when a car driven by Susan Macchi apparently drifted into the oncoming lane on a wet road, Plymouth police reports say.

Macchi, 64, and Juliet Macchi, 23, both of Carver, died as a result of the Sept. 22 early morning crash, police say.

Basler had a blood-alcohol level of .19, more than twice the legal limit for driving, although he did not appear intoxicated to officers, police say. He also had a gun in the car, according to police, which was found in bushes nearby.

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