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Affidavit: Driver accused in fatal Nashua hit and run had been drinking

Union Leader Correspondent

March 07. 2014 9:58PM

Cara E. Smith 

NASHUA — The alleged driver of a fatal hit-and-run accident had consumed several drinks before heading home on the night of the collision, police said.

Cara E. Smith, 39, of 6 Satin Ave., told authorities that on the evening of Feb. 23 — the night she allegedly struck and killed Robert Derome, 63, with her SUV — she had five alcoholic beverages while out to dinner.

According to a police affidavit filed at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division, Smith acknowledged she consumed the drinks before heading home. During her drive home, Smith said she "felt a thump or something hitting her vehicle" while traveling west on West Hollis Street.

She told Officer Brian Trefry of the Nashua Police Department that she thought someone had thrown something at her vehicle, court documents say.

"Smith advised she slowed, and looked out her windows and did not see anyone/anything in the area, so she continued to drive home," says the affidavit. After noticing damage to her vehicle the next morning, Smith told police that she reported the damage to her insurance company, saying someone struck her parked car.

Police arrested Smith on Thursday for the incident, charging her with a felony count of conduct after an accident.

According to authorities, damaged pieces of Smith's SUV were found at the accident scene, and video cameras from different locations recorded the SUV traveling on West Hollis Street the night of Derome's death. In the footage, the SUV was spotted with two working headlights in one area of the roadway, but just one working headlight in the area past the collision, says the affidavit.

Smith told police that she saw several news reports indicating a person was hit and killed on West Hollis Street. Still, Smith said she did not contact police "for fear of implicating herself in the event she was not suspected as being the driver of the involved vehicle," says court records.

Carolyn Kappen, deputy chief medical examiner, determined that Derome's cause of death was blunt impact injuries to the head, neck, torso and extremities. The injuries, according to her assessment, are consistent with injuries that would be sustained by a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle, says the police affidavit.

Smith has been charged with one felony, but police said other charges are possible as the investigation progresses. She was arraigned on Friday when Judge Thomas Bamberger set bail at $50,000 cash or surety. Smith is to be back in court on March 17 for a probable cause hearing.

In the meantime, she has been ordered to refrain from alcohol or drug use.

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