Road sign a sobering reminder of tragedy
BEDFORD — It took several years, but Wendy Deabill finally has a prominent way to memorialize her father, who was killed by a drunk driver.
Henry Magee, a longtime Bedford resident, was coming home from an early morning fishing trip in September 2006 when he was struck head-on by a drunk driver and killed on Route 101 near Liberty Hill Road.
Followng the death, Deabill enlisted the help of police and local legislators to help push through TRA 311, the Driving While Impaired Victim Fatality Sign Program, to remind people not to drink and drive.
"It took us two legislative sessions to get it through," Deabill said. "It was killed the first time around, but passed the second."
Former Bedford Police Chief David Bailey, who supported Deabill in her endeavor, said the sign, which will be in place for two years, serves two purposes.
"One, it honors the person who died, and two, it will warn people not to drink and drive," Bailey said.
Bailey joined Deabill, her daughter Kate and brother Jim Magee at the site of the crash Friday to unveil the sign, which is the first of its kind in the state following the bill's passage in July 2010.
Accompanying the group was Lydia Valliere, director of the New Hampshire chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"This is the first that the Legislature has approved," Valliere said. "We're not hoping that there will be many more, but we're hoping that this one will be a deterrent to help eliminate drunk driving."
That the sign was put up just before Father's Day tomorrow was not lost on Deabill, who said seeing it will likely stir up much emotion.
"This is a reminder that he's really gone," she said. "It shattered so many lives."
Though it has taken her several years, Deabill said she is at peace with the way that her father died, and she expressed sympathy for the other driver, who was age 20 at the time of the accident.
"I feel badly for her," Deabill said. "She didn't set out to do it. I'm at peace with it."
Jim Magee said that despite some mixed feelings he had about the sign initially, he was pleased to see it.
"Now that I'm here, I have to say it's a profound and touching moment," he said. "I'm delighted that the permanence of my father's presence is kind of memorialized here."Magee said he could envision his father's reaction to the memorial.
"He wasn't one to really seek the limelight," he said. "But to use his terminology, I think he'd describe this as 'neat.'"