The young daughter of a longtime Gilford Police Department dispatcher died Tuesday following an early-morning car crash in the town.
Ava Doris, 16, was driving a sedan west on a snowy Route 11A (Cherry Valley Road) when she lost control, causing the vehicle to crash into a tree, according to Gilford police. The crash was reported at about 7 a.m. in the area of Rocky Road.
Gilford police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said Ava had just left her home and may have been en route to meet her father, Tim Doris, who has dispatched police calls for decades, first in Boston and then in Gilford.
Emergency personnel rushed to extricate Ava from the vehicle. She was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, where she died, police said.
Police said the snow-covered road was a factor.
In a phone interview Tuesday night, Bean Burpee described Ava as a gentle and kind person who loved life. She worked at the Gilford House of Pizza, where she was well-known by those in the community and wore many hats, including those of cook and waitress, he said.
“She always had a smile on her face,” he said. “She was a vibrant young lady.”
Ava attended Gilford High School and played field hockey and lacrosse.
“As a team obviously we’re hurting,” Gilford field hockey coach Dave Rogacki said. “A few years ago a group of seniors said to me, coach, we’re leaving a legacy, but we’re not a team, we’re a family. And that’s one of things that I always try to emphasize to the kids, to take care of each other on and off the field, like a family.”
Rogacki said he found out about the crash from the Gilford High School principal. The coach reached out to his team to let them know the grim news.
“I’ve talked to all the captains and I said ‘Hey, look, you’ve got to give the family time to process this,” he said.
Ava was a goalie for the team and was a standout for her work ethic, Rogacki said.
“One of her biggest contributions was making other kids work hard so when they get into the games, they understand how hard they have to work,” Rogacki said. “You always think of goalies as defense, defense, defense, but because of her work ethic that’s what made our offense good. They understood how to score against good goalies. She played a key role there.”
After the crash, officers closed a portion of Route 11A for several hours to allow the state’s Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team to investigate.
New Hampshire State Police and Gilford police initially withheld Ava’s name to make sure the extended family had been notified. Later in the day, Gilford Police posted on their Facebook page that dispatcher Doris had lost his 16-year-old daughter in the incident. They included ways the public could help the family.
Within minutes of the post on the department’s Facebook page, there was an outpouring of support from the community.
“It’s been overwhelming,” he said.
The Gilford Police Relief Association started an online meal-giving campaign through Meal Train Plus to support the Doris family. Within an hour of the campaign’s launch, more than a dozen people and organizations had signed up. The site also accepts monetary donations, which Bean Burpee said were generously coming in, too.
A separate crowdfunding campaign was started through YouCaring to raise money for the girl’s funeral expenses.
(Monitor sports editor Tim O’Sullivan contributed to this report.)