Investigation Underway - 429

LACONIA — Police Chief Chris Adams said yesterday that it could be a matter of weeks until the Police Department completes the investigation and issues a report on the accident on Messer Street last Friday that took the life of one Middle School student and left another with severe injuries.
Lilyanna Johnson and Alyssa Miner, both 14 and eighth grade students, were struck by a Jeep Cherokee, driven by Amy Lafond, 52, of 10 River Street, Laconia, while on the sidewalk on the Messer Street Bridge, near the intersection of Opechee Street and Messer Street at approximately 2:30 p.m. Both were flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon where Lilyanna died of her injuries that same evening and Alyssa Miner, 14, remains is stable condition with serious injuries.
Captain Matt Canfield, who is overseeing the investigation, said that it is proceeding on two parallel tracks. The Belknap County Accident Investigation Team, which began collecting evidence at the scene shortly after the incident occurred, will determine precisely what happened. Meanwhile, he said that patrol officers and detectives officers will interview witnesses and gather information, to discover why it happened.
"There are lost of different avenues to explore," Canfield said, adding that officers worked through the weekend. He explained that the statements of witnesses must be confirmed by forensic evidence, some of which will require laboratory analysis. "Nothing is clear-cut," he said cautioning against speculating on the cause of the tragedy before the investigation is complete.
According to preliminary statements made by the police, Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street at the foot of the Messer Street Bridge, where a pedestrian crosswalk crosses Messer Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street.
About the same time, Lily and Alyssa had walked down Opechee Street to the intersection, turned the corner on to the sidewalk and were walking along the sidewalk on the west side of the Messer Street Bridge. For reasons that remain to be determined, Lafond skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk via a ramp, then hit the two girls from behind. Canfield said that one of the girls was thrown on to the hood and into the windshield of the Cherokee as it caromed off the guardrail and then came to rest on the northbound side of the bridge.
Canfield said that at this time police have no reason to warrant bringing charges against Lafond.