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Friends remember Lily Johnson on anniversary of tragic death

LACONIA — Despite a cold wind whipping in from Lake Opechee, hundreds of area people came to the Messer Street boat ramp area Saturday afternoon to remember Lilyanna Johnson — the middle school student who was killed after being hit by a car April 19, 2013.

Organized by the Laconia High School Key Club, the very quiet and respectful tribute to Lilyanna featured a table strewn with photos of her and her friends, a table of deserts for munching and the ability to contribute to two of Lilyanna's family's favorite things — the WLNH Children's Auction and the Sunday Dearborn Scholarship for athletes.

"(The family) helped us decide what was appropriate and what would make them feel the best," said Emilie Maddocks, a junior at Laconia High School and the event's main organizer from the Key Club.

Johnson and her friend Allyssa Miner had just left school on April 19, 2013 which was the Friday before spring break. The two had walked down Opechee Street and had turned left to walk over the Messer Street Bridge when a Jeep being driven by Amy Lafond ran up on to the sidewalk and struck both girls.

Lilyanna died later that day and Miner survived her injuries that included a broken pelvis.

Because it was a warm spring day, many middle school students were walking home in anticipation of their week off and unfortunately, a number of the children witnessed the horrible crash.

"It left a string of victims throughout this community," said one local police officer who was involved in the ensuing criminal investigation.

But Saturday's event was held for the sole purpose of remembering Lilyanna and for the friends, family, teachers, and the members of the community who wanted to remember her as the laughing and happy eighth grader she was.

Many students bearing bouquets of flowers and dressed in blue and purple, hugged each other and talked quietly in groups. Police, there for traffic-control purposes, kept a respectful distance.

Freshmen in high school now, most said they had moved on from their middle school days but the memory of Lilyanna and what happened will always be etched in their memories.

"It's good to see everyone together," said freshman Nicolas Murray who was holding a bouquet of flowers.

Murray joined the many students who used crayons to write a message to her on a table wrapped with a white sheet of paper.

Maddocks said that the Key Club organized the event by contacting the school superintendent, Public Service of New Hampshire, that owns the property, Laconia City Hall and the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation.

Most importantly was the conversations they had with Lilyanna's family who who told the students they didn't want any speeches or formal events — just an informal gathering of her friends, family and teachers who wanted to remember her.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:59

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Hatch to run for Meredith /Gilford House seat

MEREDITH — Mike Hatch yesterday announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for one of the four seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives representing Meredith and Gilford.

Hatch said that "recent events in the (Belknap) County Convention have convinced me that it's time to run for office myself."

In a letter to The Daily Sun last month Hatch wrote that he would not call Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Mredith), who chairs the convention a "dictator, but Russia's Mr. Putin could learn a lot from her" and in a subsequent letter likened the performance of the convention to the Red Sox of 2012.

A lifelong resident of Meredith, Hatch served in the United States Navy as a corpsman and worked in the construction industry until breaking his heels in an accident. He worked for the postal service in Center Harbor and as a custodian at Inter-Lakes Elementary School. He has belonged to American Legion Post No. 33 for the past 46 years and served as its commander. An avid outdoorsman, he has hunted and fished since he was a young boy and believes strongly in safeguarding the natural beauty and resources of New Hampshire.

Describing himself as a fiscal conservative and champion of the Second Amendment, he has volunteered in a number political campaigns, but never run for office himself. "I can write all the letters I want, but I decided it's time to try and show them how to run things better," he said. " I want to go to Concord to bring common sense to local politics," he continued. "The taxpayers of Gilford and Meredith deserve to have leadership who will lead with integrity and get things done .I it's time want to bring common sense to local politics," he said. "I am a plain talking guy and I mean to talk plain in Concord."

The four seats in the district are currently held by Reps. Worsman, Bob Greemore and Herb Vadney, all of Meredith, and Democrat Lisa DiMartino of Gilford.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:51

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Body of Northfield man found in Bristol river

CONCORD — The search for Aaron Hoyt, 32, of Northfield, concluded on MOnday when searchers found his body in the Smith River about a half mile below Profile Falls in Bristol. He was discovered about 9:30 a.m. by conservation officers patrolling in boats.

The search for Hoyt began a week ago on the evening of April 14, when he disappeared into fast-moving water following a leap into the icy Smith River. New Hampshire Fish and Game officials suspended the search midweek, as rapidly rising water from spring runoff made conditions unsafe for searchers.

By the weekend, with water levels receding, Fish and Game resumed the search all day on Saturday and Sunday, utilizing Fish and Game Conservation Officers and New England K-9 Search and Rescue teams. On Monday the Bristol Police Department also assisted.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:46

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Jury selection for Lafond trial is June 9

LACONIA — The trial of Amy Lafond on charges that her reckless and negligent driving caused the death of one teenage girl and severely injured another on Messer Street a year ago, is scheduled to begin with jury selection on June 9, following a hearing on pending motions in the case on May 14.

Justice James D. O'Neill, III has said that once the trial begins it will proceed uninterrupted to its conclusion. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Earlier this month attorney Mark Sisti, who represents Lafond, for the second time asked the Belknap County Superior Court to delay her trial, explaining that three eyewitnesses — all juveniles — had come forward with additional information, which he would need time to review. Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen told the court that both the prosecution and defense should have time interview the witnesses and did not object to the request to continue.

Lafond, 53, is charged with manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide arising from an incident on April 19 when she allegedly drove into two teenage girls on Messer Street, killing Lilyanna Johnson and seriously injuring Allyssa Miner. She is also charged with several drug offenses and traffic violations. She remains in the Belknap County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.
Last week Sisti filed a motion to suppress the results of tests conducted on blood drawn from Lafond at Lakes Region General Hospital shortly after the incident. He claimed that the officer seeking her consent to the blood draw failed to inform her that the results could be used against her in a criminal prosecution and argued that her consent was not given "knowingly." At the same time, he contended that the results of a second blood draw, which state law requires of drivers involved in accidents leading to serious injury of death if there is probable cause that they caused the collision, must also be suppressed because the officer found no probable cause to believe Lafond was impaired.

Meanwhile, Guldbrandsen has indicated that she will move to introduce a video simulation of the incident prepared by the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team into evidence.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:43

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