Published DateLACONIA — One 8th grade girl was killed and another severely injured when they were struck by an SUV near the intersection of Messer Street and Opechee Street as they began to cross the Messer Street Bridge at around 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
Captain Matt Canfield of the Police Department confirmed that Lilyanna Johnson, 14, died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon from her injuries in the early evening while Alyssa Miner, also 14, was listed in stable condition. Both girls were taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital, then immediately flown by helicopter to Lebanon.
Within an hour of Lily's passing, a Facebook page was created, expressing condolences for Lilyanna and hope for Aslyssa, which quickly drew numerous posts and more than 2,000 likes.
The girls, both students at Laconia Middle School and born five days apart, had walked down Opechee Street, turned the corner and started along the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge when they were hit by a Jeep Cherokee driven by Amy Lafond , 52, of 10 River Street, Laconia. Other students indicated the two girls were on their way to a freind's house.
According to several people at the scene, Lafond, who was traveling northbound on Messer Street, crossed into the southbound lane as the roadway bends to the right approaching the bridge. The Cherokee left the roadway, climbed on to the sidewalk and hit the two girls before caroming off the guardrail and coming to rest against the curb on the opposite side of the bridge. Lafond sustained injuries from the collision and was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital by Gilford Fire-Rescue, where she was treated and released.
Canfield said that an active investigation by the police, with assistance from the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team, is underway. He urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact the Police Department at 524-5252 or call the Laconia Crimeline at 527-1717. Alternatively, he said that information can be sent anonymously by e-mail to laconiapd.org.
Immediately after the incident School Superintendent Bob Champlin turned to the Alert Now system to simultaneously notify the families of all students that two middle school students had been struck by a car, stressing that their parents were with them and asking that thoughts and prayers be with their families.
Champlin later said that the cafeteria of the middle school will open at 10 a.m. this morning to provide a place for all those affected by the tragedy to gather in the company of two counselors and the student services coordinator.
"I want to offer a comfortable environment where people can talk to one another or with a counselor," he said.
Messer Street, from Oak Street on the south to Bisson Ave. on the north, was closed to traffic until the early evening hours as the accident reconstruction team worked at the scene.