Grace Wight, 18, of Lyndeborough intends to issue a plea of not guilty on felony charges relating to a July car accident that killed a pedestrian on Mountain Road, according to her attorney.
The incident occurred on July 15, shortly after midnight. The victim was Lyndeborough resident Debess Rogers, 60, whose vehicle had broken down.
Indictments were filed in the Hillsborough Country North Superior Court in Manchester. Wight was charged with negligent homicide and reckless conduct with a deadly weapon (her Dodge truck), both Class B felonies, as well as misdemeanor vehicular assault.
Attorney James Rosenberg, of the Concord-based Shaheen & Gordon, represents Wight. He said they are being cooperative and hope to file a plea ahead of the March 17 arraignment date.
“We are at the very early stages,” he said.
In a statement on behalf of Wight, he said, “Grace’s heart goes out to the victim and her family.” In the statement, he added, “We are currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding the accident and wish to cooperate with prosecutors and law enforcement to determine if there is a responsible way to manage the case.”
Wight was 17 at the time of the accident, old enough to be charged as an adult in traffic-related matters.
Reports of the incident have the accident happening in Lyndeborough between 1:30 and 3 a.m. In New Hampshire, drivers licenses are restricted for drivers under age 18 to prohibit driving between 1 and 5 a.m. Wight had not yet turned 18 in July, and was not legally permitted to drive after 1 a.m.
The reports differ on both the exact time and location of the incident, though. Initially, the state police said it was on Center Road, but the indictment said Mountain Road.
Rosenberg said he does not know what accounts for the inconsistencies yet.
“At this stage, we are working with the county to get it’s investigative file,” he said.
Wight is a high school senior and is still attending classes. Rosenberg said it is important to her that she continue her high level of academics and full slate of extracurriculars.
Her soccer coach, Bill Draper, said he hopes she will be able to move past this some day.
“She’s a good kid, she was one of my captains, one of my team leaders,” he said. “Unfortunate circumstances, but she’s one of those kids, does lots of community service, part of the national honor society at school.”
He added that she is not “one of these kids out there causing trouble.”
The window for a speedy trial in this type of case is nine months, but Rosenberg said there is a chance it may not even go to trial, and if it does, a lot can happen to delay or expedite it, so he cannot project a timeline yet.
The July 15 accident resulted from Wight’s vehicle crossing onto the wrong side of the road. Rogers, also a Lyndeborough resident, was walking home to get another car after the one she had been driving with her husband broke down. The New Hampshire State Police handled the investigation.
Jody Goode, whose daughter had Cerebral Palsy and was helped by Rogers while earning her college degree, said in July, “The relationship she had with my daughter was amazing, and the fact that other people will not be able to benefit from the gift Debess had to give is a true tragedy.”
Rogers worked at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center and was in the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Milford.
Rosenberg’s statement on behalf of Wight says she has had Rogers’ family in her thoughts ever since the accident.
“Sometimes it’s just a perfect storm of circumstances, and things happen, and we’ve only heard half the story,” said Draper. “We’ll just see how it all plays out.”