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One teen killed, another injured when hit by cars while crossing Route 28 in Derry

New Hampshire Sunday News

May 04. 2013 8:12PM

DERRY - A Manchester teenager has died after she and another girl were struck by vehicles while crossing Route 28 Friday night.

Sophia Christen, 15, was airlifted to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., with serious head injuries after the accident. She later "passed away as a result of the injuries she sustained during this collision," police said in a news release.

The other girl, Lauren Gendreau, 13, of Derry, was taken to Parkland Medical Center with what police said were serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The girl was released from the hospital Saturday night, a nursing supervisor said.

Police said the two girls were in a group of youngsters that was crossing Route 28 (Manchester Road) when two vehicles heading north struck them shortly after 9 p.m.

Sgt. Kevin Jackson said the collision is still being investigated, but it appears that the older girl was hit by both vehicles and the younger one was hit by one of them. He said the youngsters had been attending a carnival set up in the parking lot of Ocean State Job Lots.

On Facebook Friday night, about two hours before the accident, Sophia Christen had posted: "At the Derry carnival ... anyone else here? Like."

Sophia had graduated from Hillside Middle School last year and was a freshman at Manchester Central High School. Ron Mailhot, Central's principal, said she was "a lively little girl" and always had "a happy smile."

She was the daughter of Mark and Elaine Christen and had two sisters, Noelle, a senior at Central, and Annalina, a sixth-grader at Hillside, according to school officials.

Mailhot said counselors will be on hand Monday at Central to help students cope with the tragedy. And he said the school will observe a moment of silence to remember Sophia.

"We're going to be ready to take care of our kids and make sure they have what they need," he said.

Police identified the drivers involved in the crash as George Draper, 63, of Bow, who was in a Toyota RAV 4, and Anne Bartlett, 58, of Manchester, who was in an Acura RDX.

Police closed Route 28 for about five hours after the accident. Derry police's Accident Reconstruction Team is investigating.

Jim O'Connell, president of the Hillside Parent Teacher Organization, said his daughter plays softball with Annalina Christen, and the team had its first game Saturday. That's where teammates and their parents found out what had happened to Annalina's sister, he said, and the girls were very upset.

Saturday morning, Annalina Christen posted a photo on Facebook that she said depicted "me holding my sister's hand when she died."

Sophia's friends and family used the social media site to share their loss and grief.

Tina Lysogorski Wade wrote: "Late last night my 15 year old cousin was hit by a car. Early this morning the man upstairs took her hand and guided her to heaven. Sophia you are loved and will be missed. Keep a eye on the family from above and say hello to gram and gramp for me. RIP my sweet cousin...."

"No. I don't believe this at all," one friend wrote. "I (had) just seen her 2 days ago with a smile on her face & now she's gone?...RIP Sophia I will miss you SO much & I will never forget our memories at hillside."

And another girl posted, "Waking up and finding out you're gone just broke my heart...your a perfect girl with the perfect in paradise babygirl...I love you!"

No information was available about Lauren Gendreau's condition last night. A nursing supervisor at Parkland Medical Center said she was not a patient there, and a supervisor in the emergency department said she could not release any information about her.

O'Connell said the tragedy has hit home with families in the city. "There's a sense of sadness and regret across the Hillside and Central communities," he said.

"When something like this happens, you realize how small a community Manchester is," he said. "Sometimes we look at Manchester and it seems like a big city. But something like this happens and you realize we are all interconnected."

O'Connell said he looked at his own four children and thought about Sophia's family. "I picture the family going home tonight and having an empty seat at the table. I feel for them."

Union Leader staff writer Michael Cousineau contributed to this report.

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