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September 22, 2013

Essex rider among the injured in cycling tragedy

HAMPTON, N.H. — An Essex resident was one of two bicyclists injured Saturday when a car crashed into a group of riders on an organized cycling tour, leaving two other North Shore cyclists dead.

All of the victims were from the North Shore area of Massachusetts and were participating in the 40th annual Granite State Wheelmen Tri-State Seacoast Century ride.

Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, of Essex, and Margo Heigh, 54, of Danvers, were both transported from the scene and hospitalized with what authorities described as non-life threatening injuries.

Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, and Elise Bouchard, 52, of Danvers, died from injuries received in the crash, which happened on a two-lane bridge in Hampton at about 8:30 a.m., 90 minutes after the ride began. Both were pronounced dead at the hospital: Wells at Exeter Hospital; Bouchard at Portsmouth Hospital.

Investigators have determined that the bicyclists participating in the Seacoast Century ride were traveling north on Ocean Boulevard, just starting over the Underwood Bridge, when a vehicle traveling south over the bridge — operated by Darriean Hess, 20, of Seabrook, N.H. — hit the group of riders. Hess was transported to Portsmouth Hospital for minor injuries. Ocean Boulevard is also designated as Route 1A.

Police say Hess drifted off the center lane and hit the four bicyclists. Authorities haven’t said whether the driver will be charged.

“After the driver hit the cyclists, the driver lost control and veered back on to this side of the road and carved a path of destruction taking down safety reflectors and ultimately this sign,” Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan told WMUR-TV.

The bicyclists were crossing Underwood Bridge that spans Hampton Harbor, police said. A section of Route 1A was closed off while police investigated the crash.

The annual ride typically follows the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine coastlines, according to the event’s website.

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