Bartender’s dilemma

Civil suit filed in DWI crash, Wolfeboro Inn charged with serving alcohol to driver

By BEA LEWIS, for The Laconia Daily Sun

OSSIPEE — A Carroll County woman facing multiple felony charges had a blood alcohol concentration of more than four times the legal limit when she crossed the center line and plowed into an oncoming car on Route 28 in Wolfeboro, claims a lawsuit filed on behalf of her victims.

Sarah Kelley 32, whose last known address was in Tuftonboro, was scheduled to appear in Carroll County Superior Court on Feb. 13, but only her public defender showed up for the status conference and met privately at the bench with the judge and prosecutors.

Kelley who has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $10,000 personal recognizance bail is reportedly back in the hospital after experiencing complications from the severe injuries she sustained in the Feb. 25, 2015, crash.

Following the brief sidebar with Judge Amy Ignatius, Assistant Carroll County Attorney Matthew Conley would only say that the state was unsure of Kelley's condition, and had agreed to continue the hearing until March 28 at 9 a.m.

In August, Kelley was indicted on 13 charges, the most serious first-degree assault causing serious bodily injury to a child under age 13. She has also been charged with five counts of second-degree assault, reckless conduct and six counts of aggravated DWI, alleging alternate theories.

Tannah Curtis of Dover, and her then 10-year-old daughter, Shylah were heading south near the intersection of Trotting Track Road, about 12:30 p.m., when Kelley who was traveling northbound crossed into the oncoming lane and struck them head-on along a section of highway that has a posted speed limit of 55 mph, police charge.

State investigators determined that Kelley has just downed two potent cocktails within 15 minutes, and also had "drugs in her urine."

Attorney James Nadeau of Portsmouth, asserts in a civil suit filed on behalf of Tannah Curtis that she suffered severe and permanent injuries including a broken right knee cap, a fractured L5 vertebrae, in herlower back, and lacerations to her liver.

Attorney Michael Rainboth, who represents Shylah Curtis, claims his client sustained facial fractures and scarring, as well as a broken right hand and right foot. Both plaintiffs have undergone recurrent surgical procedures, resulting in extensive hospital and medical expenses and will continue to need treatment in the future.

The lawsuit names HCC Wolfeboro LLC, doing business as the Wolfeboro Inn as the defendant, and charges they had a duty to properly supervise and train their employees in the proper way to serve alcohol and not to serve anyone who was intoxicated.

Kelley was an employee of the inn at the time of the accident and worked as a banquet bartender. Investigators with the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission determined that Kelley had rented a room at the inn the prior night and that the morning of the crash, she ordered and drank at least two Long Island ice tea cocktails at the inn bar.

She left the 90 N. Main St. property at 12:14 p.m. and the crash was reported at 12:31 p.m. The Liquor Commission concluded its investigation with a finding that the Wolfeboro Inn had committed the crime of prohibited sales for serving alcohol "to a visibly intoxicated person, or who a reasonable and prudent person would know is intoxicated, resulting in three personal injuries."

Kelley was critically injured in the crash and was initially on life support, according to Liquor Commission records.

As a result of the investigation into alcohol sales, the inn entered into an agreement with the state to pay a $1,500 fine, with $500 suspended for one year, pending no similar violations. The inn's liquor license was also suspended for five days, with one day held in abeyance.

Under the terms of the settlement, the inn did not admit wrongdoing or liability.

In response to the allegations in the civil suit, attorney Stephen Duggan of Boston wrote in court filings that the inn denies any and all claims for liability, or that it was negligent. Duggan has argued that there is sufficient evidence to include Kelley on the jury verdict form as a responsible party and that her own conduct was to

He asserts that the defendant's employee who served Kelley did not know, or reasonably should not have known that Kelley was allegedly intoxicated when she was served alcohol.

At the time of service, the employee was adhering to responsible business practices and was unaware that a toxicology report would later show that Kelley had "other drugs" in her system, that were not provided by the defendant or its agent.

Duggan further claims that an investigation shows that Kelley may have additional alcohol not provided by the inn.

Following the crash, Kelley had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.35, more than four times the legal limit for driving in New Hampshire of 0.08, Duggan claims in the suit.

The indictments returned against Kelley alleges that she was also impaired by marijuana and benzodiazepine, a class of tranquilizing prescription drugs such as Valium.

The lawsuit seeks an enhanced monetary award on behalf of the plaintiffs based on allegations that the conduct of the inn and its agents was "wanton, willful and grossly negligent."

The parties are scheduled to complete mediation with a paid judicial referee in an effort to reach an out of court settlement by Nov. 1, 2017. If an agreement cannot be negotiated, the case is scheduled for a two to three-day trial to start in early December.


02-20 Wolfeboro Inn

A Dover woman has filed a lawsuit against the Wolfeboro Inn claiming they negligently served alcohol to a motorist who crashed into her head-on causing severe injuries. The inn denies any wrongdoing. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Nordic skiers thrive amid peak conditions

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Rick Persons of Laconia relishes the chance to learn cross country skiing at Gunstock Mountain Resort Tuesday. Nordic skiing and snowshoeing conditions remained excellent with ample snow. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)


GILFORD — For her 66th birthday, Tina Jurta of Gilford received a gift from her daughter with special meaning: a cross-country skiing lesson at Gunstock Mountain Resort.
"I did it once, but it was nice of my daughter to give me a lesson for my birthday. My grandkids ski with the Gunstock Nordic Association. They race, so I'm trying to keep up with them," Jurta said Tuesday.
Rick Persons of Laconia joined Irena Bosworth of Natick, Massachusetts, and Jurta for Tuesday's lesson.
Persons said, "It's warming up, and so is the snow," but he said he relished the opportunity to enjoy the trails under blue skies.
Persons said he has an alpine season pass, and he decided to take advantage of a package deal to try out cross country skiing.
At the Gunstock Nordic Ski School, Tuesday marked the calm after the storm, both literally and figuratively. On Sunday, the resort sold out and had to turn skiers and snowshoers away after reaching capacity. Recent snowstorms and an onset of "bluebird" days with pure-blue skies caused the resort to physically run out of space.
Among the weekend crowd were cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Instructor Gunnar Stohlberg of Barnstead said cross-country skiing conditions remain superb, although the grooming schedule will depend on evening temperatures and moisture. Ski trails are sensitive to thaws, so the mountain nordic center is protective of the two-foot-plus base.
"With all of this new snow and the vacation week, it's been overloaded. We cleaned out our snowshoes three times on Saturday because we would not have any more, and then a couple would come back," Stohlberg recalled, noting the steady rotation of customers.
Jane Carpenter, another ski instructor at Gunstock, runs dog ski touring lessons, teaching people to train dogs to pull them around on skis. The resort features 15 kilometers of dog-friendly trails. Carpenter said two-legged and four-legged visitors can take advantage of well-groomed trails, on one of the few mountains around that generates its own snow for cross country trails.
"We make snow so we stockpile it," Carpenter said.
A mountain crew spreads the manmade snow with a manure spreader and grooms trails with a groomer. The resort on Tuesday reported 20 to 32 inches of base depth varying across 34 nordic trails totaling 33 kilometers in length.
"We've had wonderful compliments despite the challenging conditions," Carpenter said.
Up-and-down temperatures have kept the snowmakers and groomers on their toes, she said.
"We have manmade snow and that's going to last," Carpenter said.
Even if it rains (Friday's forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers with a high near 47 degrees), the snow base should hold up, she said.
Vacation Week in Massachusetts guaranteed an influx of out-of-state skiers and snowshoers, and locals converged over the weekend for conditions reminiscent of spring skiing, but with icy snow rather than slush.
Sunday's sell-out day left everyone breathless.
"The mountain was humming," Carpenter said.
Jurta, who reacquainted herself with cross country skiing during Tuesday's lesson, said her family saw first hand the frantic pace at Gunstock over the weekend. She came on Sunday to watch her grandchildren race, but "We couldn't even get in."
"So we went to Alton to check out the winter festival. We couldn't find anyplace to park, so we turned around and came back. By then, they were letting people in, so I got to see my grandson finish, and I got to see my granddaughter start and finish," she said.


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Rick Persons of Laconia, Irena Bosworth of Natick, Massachusetts, and Tina Jurta of Gilford take a cross country skiing lesson from Gunnar Stohlberg of Barnstead, instructor at Gunstock Mountain Resort, Tuesday. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

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LACONIA — Wes Anderson has seen both sides of the problem of salt corrosion. As Public Works director for Laconia, he manages the application of salt brine to help keep roadways clear of ice. Dry salt is applied in heavy snow situations. In his previous p


LACONIA — Wes Anderson has seen both sides of the problem of salt corrosion.
As Public Works director for Laconia, he manages the application of salt brine to help keep roadways clear of ice. Dry salt is applied in heavy snow situations.
In his previous position as head of fleet management for Manchester, he was responsible for 500 vehicles. Many sustained corrosion damage caused by road salt.
His advice: Get to the car wash after the storm passes.
"Back when I worked for the city of Manchester, we would tell workers to wait for the road to dry and get the vehicles washed because salt can cause rust and corrosion," he said.
The best type of car wash for this purpose is one that has an underbody spray that can clean off salt that sticks to the bottom of vehicles, where rust can damage important components. Underbody protective treatments can also be effective.
Laconia began spraying the brine solution for the first time this year.
Dan Goodman, spokesman for AAA Northern New England, said such liquids can be even more damaging to vehicles than dry salt, because the fluid can get into tight places subject to accelerated corrosion.
Pat Moody, public affairs manager for the same organization, said drivers need to be attentive to corrosion caused by salt.
"This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections," Moody said.
Alysa Reich, spokeswoman for the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, said about 50 percent of automobile corrosion is attributable to de-icing salt. She suggests:
• Keep your car parked outdoors as the warmth of an indoor garage melts salty ice on the car and speeds the corrosion process.
• Repair dents and scratches where corrosion can start.
• Pay special attention to cleaning brake and wheel components.

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