LACONIA – A Laconia Police officer who was the first responder to the scene of a fatal crash on Parade Road earlier this month testified yesterday that she had "never seen anything like" the scene she saw.
"The debris field was a mess, there was stuff everywhere," said Officer Holly Callanan during her testimony at a probable cause hearing held for Ryan Mears, 26, of Kingston in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.
Mears, who police alleged was driving while intoxicated, is charged with one count of negligent homicide the death of Tiffany Nieves of Laconia and one count of second-degree assault for the injuries to a second passenger, Jeremy King, stemming from the Nov. 2 crash.
Judge Jim Carroll found there was probable cause for the charges and bound the case over to the Belknap County Superior Court for possible indictment.
Callanan testified yesterday that a N.H. Medical Examiner pronounced Nieves dead at the scene, saying she died instantly from a torn aorta, a lacerated heart and lung, and a fractured skull. She said she found her laying across the area between the back seat and the front seat backs.
She also said King had been partially ejected from the car and was hanging from the passenger side window. She said he was conscious, but unable to communicate.
She said an open bottle of Jack Daniels was found under Nieves' body in the back seat and a cracked bottle of Crown Royal was in the passenger front seat. She said the seal had been broken.
Callanan said she first observed Mears from the passenger side of the car and testified yesterday that he was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat of his car. She said the airbags had deployed but it didn't appear either he or King were wearing seat belts. He told her at the scene he was driving the car.
Under direct questioning, she testified the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team responded to the crash, but her preliminary assessment was the car was traveling at a high rate of speed.
As part of the "car autopsy" she said the airbag control module serves the same role as a "black box" does on an aircraft and that police and a car specialist in Center Harbor were able to recover it and download the information. Callanan said police don't have the results yet.
Callanan went to the hospital at 2:04 a.m. and spoke with Mears. She said he was wearing an oxygen mask and his speech was slurred but he would occasionally lift his mask to talk and she could smell alcohol on his breath. He knew he had been in a car accident.
She also said he initially told her he and King were playing pool at Shooters (a Belmont restaurant) and he initially said he had one shot of Jack Daniels and one beer. He told her he had taken cocaine before he went to the bar.
She testified that when she asked him a second time, he told her he drank three shots of Jack Daniels and two beers.
He signed a consent form to have his blood taken, she said, but the signature was barely legible although he had no apparent injuries to his arms, wrist or hand.
At 3:53 a.m. the lab technical drew Mears' blood and Callanan arrested him at 4:09 a.m. and read him his rights. She said he signed a felony administrative license form. She said she returned to the police department and secured the blood in the evidence room and obtained her application for a search warrant.
When she went back to LRGH, he had been moved to Concord Hospital. She said she contacted the judge and he amended the warrant for Concord Hospital.
She went to Concord with the warrant, arriving a 8 a.m. She said the next blood draws were taken at 8:45 a.m. which was about seven hours after the crash.
He was read his rights again at 9:04 a.m. and agreed to speak with her, saying he didn't know how much he drank, saying maybe it was three or four beers and three shots. She said when he signed the Miranda form, his signature was clear and on the line.
Callanan said since the crash she has interviewed a woman who said she was at the Baja Beach Club in Gilford with Mears, King, and Nieves and that she recalled he drank one shot and one beer.
The woman told Callanan they left Baja Beach Club in separate cars and went to the Funky Monkey where he had additional shots of Jack Daniels. She told Callanan that they left Funky Monkey at 1:30 a.m. but there was some issues with King at last call and that Mears and King had "last call in their vehicle."
Mears was represented yesterday by Atty. Mark Stevens.
He asked Callanan whether the driver's window was down and how she was able to speak to Mears. She answered that she didn't recall, but said her first contact with Mears was through the passenger window. She recalled the windshield was "spidered" but intact.
He also asked if she recalled whether or not Mears was given any pain medication while he was at the hospitals. She said he was hooked up to intravenous bags but she didn't know what was in them. She said he still had I.V. drips in Concord Hospital, but not as many.
Callahan said she didn't asked him if he was medicated, how much cocaine he had had or what time he had his last drink.
When asked what time he had his first drink, she testified it was around 7 p.m.
When asked, she also testified that Mears had blood on his face and was not wearing a seat belt.