Alcohol A Factor in Fatal Campground Crash
As the Gloucester, Mass., man, who was badly injured in last weekend's fatal collision between the golf cart he was reportedly driving and a minivan, remained in "serious" condition Tuesday at a Maine hospital, a witness to the aftermath of the crash said the incident was avoidable, and that alcohol played a significant role.
According to New Hampshire State Police, Jared Frontiero, 33, of Gloucester was the driver of a golf cart that was carrying three passengers early Sunday morning when it collided with a 1995 Ford Windstar driven by a Maine man along Route 16 in Albany, N.H., according to the Gloucester Daily Times.
The crash remains under investigation. While lead investigator Trooper Michael O'Neill provided no updates on the case, police probing the crash, which left a Groveland woman dead, said earlier this week that alcohol does "appear to be a contributing factor." Robin Leblanc Clohecy, 34, a passenger in the golf cart, died as a result her injuries after being transported to Memorial Hospital in Conway.
Clohecy's brother-in-law, Victor Fitzgerald, told the Times he was at Pine Knoll Campground over the holiday weekend for a family reunion and was among the first to respond at the scene of the collision.
"The (men) had no business picking my sister (in-law) up," said Fitzgerald, who thought of Clohecy as a sister.
According to Fitzgerald, approximately 100 people were returning to their campsites around midnight Sunday following a concert in a barn at Pine Knoll Campground when the crash occurred. Several individuals — including Frontiero and his friend, identified by police as a Andrew Morrissey of Newton — left the area on golf carts.
The men offered to give the Clohecy — who was on her first camping trip of the summer and sharing a tent with her sister Kelley and brother-in-law, Victor — a ride back to her tent site.
Fearful for his aunt's safety, Clohecy's 11-year-old nephew, Orlando Melendez Fitzgerald, decided to accompany his aunt on the golf cart, said Fitzgerald, of Peabody.
Many people at the concert were drinking throughout the evening, Fitzgerald said, adding his family has pictures showing the men on the golf cart drinking.
The golf cart was supposed to go approximately 25 feet down a hill and then take a sharp right into the campground's tent site area.
"Instead, he drove them 50 to 75 feet into the middle of Route 16," Fitzgerald said, suggesting they had missed the tent site entrance the dark.
Meanwhile, David Reed, 47, of Fryeburg, Maine, was driving his Windstar minivan and traveling south on the scenic highway — which meanders through several campgrounds and parks in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest — and was headed straight for the cart.
Fitzgerald said Reed should have had plenty of time to see the golf cart, which was white with reflective stickers around it, but had no headlights. The crash came around 12:30 a.m., and "it wasn't like the golf cart came right out in front of the van," Fitzgerald said.
"While they were in the middle of the road trying to turn the cart around, my nephew (said he) got three sentences out, 'a car's coming,' 'he's not slowing down,' 'I don't think he sees us,' — and then they hit," Fitzgerald said, weeping.
The boy suffered a bruised spleen and several cuts and bruises but was conscious immediately following the crash. Fitzgerald's wife had heard the collision and urged her husband to check it out.
Fitzgerald passed by his nephew, who was walking around in shock, and two men lying unconscious in the roadway before finding Clohecy pinned beneath the transmission area of Reed's van. Fitzgerald said he mounted the strength to single-handedly move the truck off of Clohecy's bloodied body, but it quickly became obvious the damage had already been done.
"A woman we had just met lay on the ground with my sister for 40 minutes while emergency crews arrived; she was an angel," Fitzgerald sobbed. "Robin kept waking up saying it hurts."
Police have not yet commented on whether charges would be filed against either driver.