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Nashua woman arrested in connection with homeless man's hit-and-run death

March 06. 2014 5:35PM


NASHUA — A local woman is accused of striking a homeless man with her vehicle, leaving him there to die and later filing a false report to her insurance company claiming she was the victim of a hit-and-run, police said.

Cara Smith, 39, of 6 Satin Ave., was arrested on Thursday and charged with a felony count of conduct after an accident for the Feb. 23 accident that claimed the life of Robert Derome, 63.

Police say additional charges could be forthcoming for Smith, including the possibility of negligent homicide and insurance fraud.

Authorities were able to piece together video surveillance in the area of West Hollis Street at Pine Street where the accident took place, pinpointing the type of vehicle involved in the hit-and-run, according to Lt. Denis Linehan. A dark sport utility vehicle was identified, and after a tip provided a possible suspect, police were able to narrow down the identity of the driver, said Linehan.

Detectives determined that Smith had subsequently filed an insurance claim maintaining that her Chevy Trailblazer was damaged in a hit-and-run accident, said Linehan.

Authorities tracked down Smith and stopped her in the Trailblazer, which was still damaged from the February accident, he said, adding the vehicle had a broken passenger-side head lamp, a dent to the hood and other damage consistent with reports from the department’s accident reconstruction team.

Smith’s vehicle was seized on Sunday, although it took police a few days to obtain a warrant, said Linehan, adding police are still investigating and still collecting additional information on the case.

“She was very much aware that a gentleman had died in that area,” Linehan said of Smith, adding she chose not to identify herself to authorities.

After an arrest warrant was issued, Smith turned herself in to police on Thursday.

Smith told investigators she believed something had hit her vehicle, but she could not explain why she did not stop the night of the collision, said Linehan, who would not comment on whether the woman was remorseful for the accident.

She was being held on $50,000 cash bail and is likely going to be arraigned Friday at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division. D e rome was leaving a West Hollis Street convenience store on foot the evening of Feb. 23 when he was allegedly hit by Smith’s vehicle along the north side of the roadway.

A motorist soon discovered the man’s body lying motionless on the side of the road near the intersection at Pine Street in a “limited shoulder area” close to a snowbank, according to police.

Although there was snow in the area, Linehan said earlier that the nearest snowbank was outside of the travel lane, saying Derome was walking on the side of the roadway and not in the direct lane of travel when he was struck.

Derome was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua after the accident. An autopsy was performed, determining that he suffered severe injuries to his head and pelvis from being struck by the motor vehicle.

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