HAMPTON — Police have asked for help from the public as the investigation continues into the deaths of two bicycle riders participating in a Seacoast cycling event that brought hundreds to ride routes from Hampton to designations along the coasts of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.
Two Massachusetts women were killed and two others hurt Saturday when police say a 20-year-old Seabrook motorist crossed from the southbound side of the Neal Underwood Memorial Bridge from Seabrook to Hampton into the northbound lane and struck a group of riders.
Police said they do not know why the driver, Darriean Hess, crossed into the oncoming lane while crossing the bridge at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, Mass., and Elise Bouchard of Danvers, Mass., were killed. Two other Bay State residents were hurt, Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, Mass., and Margo Heigh of Danvers, Mass.
The organizer of the event, the 40th Annual GSW Seacoast Century is Granite State Wheelmen, a 42-year-old organization that describes itself as New England’s most active recreational bicycling group.
A “century” is cycling terminology for a ride of 100 miles. The Seacoast event included several options for riders who did not want to ride the 100.4 mile full distance.
The Granite State group stresses safety in publicity material prepared for the event.
“This is a fun ride, not a race,” the group said, in a reminder on its website to participants in the event.
Riders are warned of the need to be mindful of safety when cycling along the Seacoast in a ride that involves dealine with “narrow colonial New England roads, steel decked bridges and weekend traffic.”
The group says that cyclists who impede the flow of motor traffic face being issued citations by police and could be banned from participating in the event in the future.
The Tri-State Seacoast Century is limited by organizers to 1,600 riders who had to register in advance, by Aug. 31, to participate.
Routes included a coastal 16.9 mile round trip ride to Newburyport, Mass.; a route from Hampton to Rye Harbor with an optional inland loop that adds additional miles to the trip. There are also routes to Kittery and York, Maine, with optional loops for cyclists attempting to reach the 100-mile mark.
As part of its ongoing investigation into the deaths, Hampton police have asked anyone with information about the accident to contact the department at 929-4444 or through the Hampton Crimeline at 929-1222.