GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 22, 2013

Essex rider among the injured in cycling tragedy

By SARA BROWN
Staff Writer

---- — 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.

The event is limited to 1,600 riders and was designed not to be a race, but rather an “enjoyable experience.”

“The Seacoast Century is unique in several ways thus making it a very enjoyable experience, not a race against the clock or other riders. Traveling through areas seldom seen by general tourists makes this event quite special,” according to the website.

The event included rides of up to 100 miles on Saturday and Sunday.

Responding to the scene to render emergency medical services were the Hampton Fire & Rescue, North Hampton Fire & Rescue, Seabrook Fire Department, and the Rye Fire Department, all from New Hampshire. Also assisting in the investigation were members of the Seabrook Police Department, and the New Hampshire State Police.

Police said the investigation is ongoing, and authorities are seeking help from the public. Anyone with information relating to the accident is asked to contact the Hampton Police Department at 929-4444 or the Crimeline for the Hampton at 929-1222.

Sara Brown can be reached at brown@gloucestertimes.com.