RINDGE — A 14-year-old girl who suffered head injuries when she fell off the hood of a car in the Rindge Memorial School parking lot about a week ago is expected to make a full recovery.
Police responded to the parking lot on the evening of May 31 for a 911 call, said Police Chief Frank Morrill on Monday.
It was a warm night and about eight teens were hanging out in the parking lot drinking soda pop, Morrill said.
When police, Rindge Fire and Rescue, and Jaffrey-Rindge Ambulance arrived they found two teen girls had been injured in a single-vehicle accident.
Justin Haase, 16, of Jaffrey had been driving a 1995 Saturn slowly around the parking lot with friends sitting on his hood, Morrill said.
“Mr. Haase thought it would be funny to drive the car around the parking lot while kids were sitting on the hood,” Morrill said.
Just as the car started to move two teen boys jumped off the hood, but the 14-year-old and a 15-year-old Jaffrey girl remained on the hood as Haase drove slowly. However, the first corner Haase navigated in the parking lot caused the girls to fly off the hood despite his slow speed.
“It was the turn,” Morrill said. “The two girls were ejected, both sustained injury.”
The Jaffrey girl was examined at the scene and waived medical attention. She left with her parents who took her to seek medical care.
The Rindge girl, though, had a head injury. She was taken by ambulance and initially was being taken to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough when her condition worsened.
The decision was made to life-flight her by medical helicopter from the Cathedral of the Pines to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.
She was released from the hospital a few days later and returned home, Morrill said.
“She sustained seven stiches to the head, a minor skull fracture, a concussion and a severely sprained neck and is expected to make a full recovery at this point,” he said.
Morrill said he is not releasing the names of either victim while the incident is under investigation.
It is likely Haase would be charged with a motor vehicle violation of either reckless operation or negligent driving, Morrill said.
It is unlikely stiffer criminal charges would be pressed, he said. “These are just kids that just made a bad decision,” he said, but added, “It was serious bodily injury so it could potentially be a felony offense. … Although it was poor judgment and a bad decision, the manner in which the vehicle was being operated I don’t know if that rises to the level of a felony offense.”
Hopefully the event is something young people in the area can learn from, he said. “I want everybody to be aware that there are consequences.”
Potentially everyone who was hanging out in the school parking lot could be charged with trespassing.
“It’s not entirely clear yet what the school wants to do about that,” Morrill said.
He is waiting to hear from school officials and whether the officials want to deal with the matter internally.
School policy prohibits people from loitering on school grounds after dark unless there is an event with adult supervision, he said. “It may be an opportunity to educate the rest of the community that this policy exists.”