×

Mother arrested for vehicular assault in incident that injured daughter



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 09, 2017

The mother of a 3-year-old girl who was run over in August by the family’s car in Jaffrey has been arrested and charged with vehicular assault.

Heather Williams, 34, whose last known address is in Keene, was arrested by Keene police on a Jaffrey Police Department warrant on Saturday around 3:10 p.m., according to Jaffrey Police Chief Bill Oswalt, in a phone interview Monday afternoon.

“Negligent operation caused serious bodily injury [to the child,]” said Oswalt.

Local and state police have been investigating the mechanical integrity of the vehicle in question since Aug. 6, when Williams’ daughter was run over by the family’s 1999 Ford Explorer on Carey Road. The toddler suffered a broken femur after the vehicle’s parking gear disengaged, causing the vehicle to roll downhill, according to police. 

Williams and her husband Christopher both admitted to police that they knew there was an issue with the vehicle’s parking mechanism, which causes the parking brake to disengage, according to an Jaffrey police affidavit dated Oct. 2. 

“Based on investigations conducted by [New Hampshire State] Trooper [Peter] McConnell and myself, it is evident Heather was not only aware of the safety issues with the Explorer, but she had developed a routine to test the defective parking mechanism prior to leaving the vehicle,” read the affidavit, written by Patrolman Jeremy K. Leblanc. “Heather was also aware the vehicle had rolled out of park in the past, and still chose to operate the vehicle and transport her children within this vehicle.”

Williams told police that she has established a routine when parking the vehicle, which involves slowly releasing the brake after engaging the vehicle in park, according to the affidavit. She then rocks from side to side in the driver’s seat of the vehicle to see if the movement will cause the parking brake to disengage.

The affidavit said Williams also admitted and reconfirmed that the vehicle has rolled out of park in the past. Police were able to move the vehicle three feet in either direction while it was in park. 

Jaffrey police would later inspect the vehicle, noting a number of issues including “missing vehicle components, exposed wiring on the interior, rusted out parts on the exterior and a crack along the windshield,” according to the affidavit. 

Police would also notice that the inspection sticker, issued on July 17, 2017 had a “torn and worn appearance suggesting the sticker was not new.”

While inventorying the vehicle, police found a work order from Swanzey Truck and Auto, the garage Christopher works at, dated July 18, 2017. The work order detailed that the faulty shifting mechanism had been replaced to function properly, according to the affidavit. 

Christopher Williams was later asked by police about the inspection, with Christopher saying a coworker had done it. Christopher later admitted to police that he had installed the inspection sticker, according to the affidavit. 

The affidavit says that State Trooper Peter McConnell of Troop G — who has also been investigating the vehicle — has found that the inspection was fraudulent and that state police will be charging Christopher Williams. Oswalt said in an email Monday that it was his understanding that state police charges could also be forthcoming against Swanzey Truck and Auto.

State Police have yet to file any charges, according to Sgt. Kenneth Carr of Troop G, as the incident is still under investigation on their end. Carr said it could be two weeks or more until the investigation is concluded. 

Williams was released on $1,000 personal recognizance and given a Nov. 9 court date in Jaffrey. Vehicular assault is a class A misdemeanor. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.