GILFORD — The driver of a pickup truck involved in a fatal crash on Route 11 Tuesday has been charged with a felony in connection with the accident, local police said Wednesday.
Richard J. Conrod, 47, of Belmont, was charged with negligent homicide-DUI late Tuesday night at Lakes Region General Hospital, where he was taken for treatment of his injuries. Belknap County Attorney Andrew Livernois said Gilford Police charged Conrod with negligent homicide-DUI because they concluded he was intoxicated. He was released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail pending his arraignment, which is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Negligent homicide is a Class A felony, punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment, a $4,000 fine, and lifetime loss of license.
The crash occurred shortly after 4 p.m. on Route 11 just east of Ellacoya State Park when Conrod’s pickup, traveling west, collided with an eastbound SUV driven by John Bonilla, 20, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Conrod was the sole occupant of the truck and police said he crossed the center line, driving into the lane of oncoming traffic.
One of the four passengers in Bonilla’s vehicle was Tiana Lozzi, 20, also of Lynn, who died from her injuries, police said. Bonilla was rushed from the scene to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, and soon afterward was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
The other passengers were a 47-year-old woman, who was also airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and two toddlers, ages 1 and 3, whose injuries were not considered life-threatening. Gilford police did not release their names.
Minutes before the crash police were alerted that a motorist was following a truck matching the description of Conrod’s vehicle, and observed that it was operating erratically and crossing into the other lane near the Alton-Gilford town line — roughly two miles from the crash scene.
“This is another horrible tragedy,” said Gilford Deputy Police Chief Kris Kelley. It was just last week that a James Willingham, of Laconia, was sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison for causing a two-vehicle accident in January 2017, also on Route 11 in Gilford, which resulted in serious injuries to two people, one of whom is in a minimally conscious state and faces little chance of further recovery.
The crash is still being “actively investigated” by the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team, Kelley said.
Six ambulances were required to transport all the injured, Gilford Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober said.
He said the four on-duty firefighters at the fire station rushed to the scene immediately after the first call with two ambulances, a heavy rescue truck and a fire engine. Because additional personnel and equipment were needed, the Laconia Fire Department sent two ambulances, and the Belmont Fire Department and Stewart’s Ambulance in Meredith each sent one.
He said when the first Fire Department units arrived on the scene, a bystander and law enforcement officers were already providing first aid to some of the victims.
“It was very intense for the first few minutes,” said Ober.
He said many of the victims suffered injuries to their extremities and some had head injuries. He said that because the two toddlers were in car seats, that helped to minimize their injuries.
LRGH spokesman Sandy Marshall said she could not comment on whether Conrod was still a patient at the hospital, citing patient privacy. A spokesman at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was unable to comment on Bonilla’s condition, explaining that he was not on the list of patients who had authorized information about them that could be given to the media.
The accident occurred at the place where the improved section of Route 11 ends and tapers into and narrower, windier, older section of highway. That older section, which stretches from Ellacoya State Park to Minge Cove Road in Alton, is scheduled for a planning study to be conducted by the state Department of Transportation next year at a cost of $250,000, according to the agency.