Police: Drugs given to driver in fatal Hampton crash
Cindy Sheppard, 48, of 51 Ocean Blvd., was charged Wednesday night with a felony count of selling drugs and of allowing an improper person to operate a car.
Darriean Hess, who had no driver's license, had already been stopped for speeding in Hampton at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday — about eight hours before she allegedly caused the deadly accident during a bicycle charity ride, police said.
Sheppard is accused of giving Hess the fentanyl some time after 1:30 a.m., police said.
In a separate case, Sheppard was arrested June 4 for allegedly dealing drugs. Hampton police detectives raided her home on Ocean Boulevard, coming away with quantities of cocaine, heroin and other drugs. At the time of her arrest, police said Sheppard was a "significant source" of heroin in the region.
Sheppard was arraigned Thursday morning from the Rockingham County jail via video at the 10th Circuit Court, Seabrook District Division. Judge Mark Weaver set bail at $10,000 cash or surety at Sheppard's arraignment today.
Sheppard's defense lawyer, Neil Reardon, argued for lower bail, saying she's not a flight risk. He said she has spent her entire life in New Hampshire and all of her family is in the area. He also said Sheppard is a double amputee from the leg down and that it would be "difficult for her to physically run away."
Hess made her first court appearance Wednesday. She was arrested Tuesday on two counts each of negligent homicide and second-degree assault.
Judge Mark Weaver set bail at $50,000 cash or corporate surety, meaning she'll remain at Rockingham County jail unless she can make bail.
"She's been absolutely grief-stricken, judge," public defender Tony Naro said of Hess, adding, "This is beyond tragic for all parties involved."
The accident on Route 1A happened Saturday at 8:30 a.m. while bicyclists participating in the Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century Ride were at Underwood Bridge near the Seabrook town line.
Authorities say Hess was driving a friend's 2002 Honda Civic southbound on Route 1A at a high rate of speed when she suddenly drifted over the double yellow line and crashed into four bicyclists.
Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, Mass., and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, Mass., were killed. Two other bicyclists, Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, Mass., and Margo Heigh, 54, of Danvers, Mass., were injured.
Hours earlier, Hampton police had stopped Hess in the same area after she was caught traveling 59 mph in the zone posted at 30 mph.
During the traffic stop, police discovered that Hess had no driver's license in New Hampshire or any other state, police said in a complaint. She was issued summonses and released to Sheppard, a licensed driver.
According to police, Sheppard was told that Hess couldn't drive because she didn't have a license. Sheppard then took control of the vehicle.
During an interview with police after her arrest Tuesday in connection with the accident, Hess told investigators that she spent the night at Sheppard's Hampton residence after she was released Saturday after the initial traffic stop. During that time, Hess told police that Sheppard provided her with the drug fentanyl, a police affidavit said.
"Ms. Hess stated that Ms. Sheppard took control of her vehicle and keys at the time of the initial traffic stop, but returned them to her with the knowledge that she would drive the vehicle in the morning," Hampton police Detective Christopher Gilroy wrote in the affidavit.
Witnesses have told police that the vehicle was operating erratically before the accident, but police have not said that Hess was under the influence of alcohol or any drugs at the time.