Memorial for UNH grad killed in Chicago crash draws 300 in Jaffrey
JAFFREY — More than 300 people attended Monday’s rosary at St. Patrick Church for University of New Hampshire graduate Laura LaPlante, who was killed when the taxi she was riding in was hit by a car driven by a suspected drunk driver on May 2 in Chicago.
LaPlante, 26, who grew up in Hancock, was to have graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law in June.
The Rev. Bill Deschamps said the rosary was said to pray for and remember LaPlante, as well as to thank God for her 26 years.
“They were short, but packed,” Deschamps said.
After the rosary, a reception was held across the street in the St. Patrick School gymnasium. LaPlante was a St. Patrick School alum.
Her parents, Roberta and Dan LaPlante of Hancock, are well-known, active community members, said friend Ruth Wilder, whose daughters attended ConVal High School in Peterborough with LaPlante.
“They have many people whose lives, as a family, they have touched,” Wilder said.
Wilder said the family’s faith and the love of their extended family — who traveled from all over the country to be with them this week — are helping them through this difficult time.
The community outpouring has been tremendous, Divine Mercy Parish Guild member Linda Caracappa said.
“She was just an amazing person. She was like a light ... She was just a sweet person. She always smiled,” Caracappa said of LaPlante. “So many people were touched by her ... She’ll live on in other people that have been inspired by her.”
The LaPlantes are members of Divine Mercy Parish in Peterborough.
“They are in the palm of Jesus’ hand and everyone is lifting them up,” Caracappa said.
LaPlante graduated from ConVal High School in 2006.
In addition to her academic achievements, she was an avid runner and accomplished member of the cross-country and track teams in high school.
She graduated summa cum laude from UNH in 2010 with degrees in both economics and philosophy.
Besides her parents, Laura is survived by her brothers, Peter LaPlante, 24, of Burlington, Vt., and Ryan LaPlante, 21, of Hancock, and her sister, Claire LaPlante, 10, of Hancock
Erik Johnson, 23, was charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence, Chicago police said.
NBC News reported that Johnson’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and he was driving the wrong way when he collided head-on with the taxi.
A Mass of Christian burial for LaPlante is to be celebrated this morning at St. Patrick Church in Jaffrey, followed by a private burial service.
A private reception for the family is being organized by the Guild and St. Patrick’s families, Caracappa said.
LaPlante’s family has asked that memorial gifts be made to the University of Chicago Law School, the Federalist Society at the University of Chicago, the Friends of UNH Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field, or the Thomas More Society.