Police: Evidence falsified in deadly Concord crash
The police arrested a 17-year-old Concord boy yesterday, charging him with falsifying evidence after a traffic accident last October killed two people, including a 7-year-old girl, but added that charges against the teen related to the deaths are not expected.
Jacob Veroneau, charged with deleting text messages after his SUV collided with a car on Clinton Street on a rainy, foggy night, turned himself in and was released on $5,000 personal recognizance bail.
Jesse Wolfe, who was 31 and graduated from Concord High, died at the scene, and Kyara Mailhot, the 7-year-old daughter of Wolfe’s girlfriend, died two weeks later. After a lengthy investigation, the police said yesterday that the primary cause of the crash was Wolfe’s failure to yield as he turned onto Clinton Street from Iron Works Road.
Lt. Tim O’Malley of the Concord Police Department said texting by Veroneau, as well as bad weather, might have played a part in the crash, but the police did not have enough evidence to directly connect Veroneau to the accident.
“Texting was determined to be a possible contributing factor,” O’Malley said. “However, there is not enough information to support charges being filed on that. At this point, barring further additional information, we will not be proceeding with criminal charges.”
Wolfe, a Manchester resident at the time of his death and the divorced father of two young children, had picked up Kyara Mailhot and his girlfriend’s sister Oct. 19, then collided with the SUV, driven by Veroneau, at about 7:30 that night.
Mike Mailhot of Hillsboro, Kyara’s father, said shortly after the accident that his daughter had suffered swelling of the brain and was placed in a medically induced coma. Her family removed her breathing tube, hoping she would breathe on her own, but she died Nov. 1.
At the time, the police said Veroneau, whom they would not identify, had suffered minor injuries and was alone in the vehicle. They said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash.
They issued the arrest warrant late last week, O’Malley said, at which time arrangements were made for Veroneau to turn himself in yesterday morning.
“The accident investigation took some time because these are very technical,” O’Malley said. “The accident reconstruction has to put together quite a bit of information, gather information, then compile it, and we work closely with the Merrimack (County) attorney’s office for possible charges.”
The police questioned Veroneau at the scene and, at some point, made it clear that his cell phone could be used as evidence. It’s not clear how long they waited before checking his phone, nor could the police determine whether Veroneau was texting at the precise time of the accident.
What is clear, O’Malley said, is that forensics tools that often include information from the cell phone carrier and the phone itself revealed what the police believe to be proof that Veroneau tried to hide something from them.
“I can tell you that we checked it following the accident and following our involvement in the case, but I can’t give you a specific time when we checked it,” O’Malley said. “Once we got involved, we allege that once he was aware we were interested in that information, the allegation is that he removed those texts from his phone.
“That being said,” O’Malley continued, “we make a distinction that this does not mean that we think that that was the cause of the accident. We’re going to leave it officially that we believe that texting is a possible contributing factor, but we cannot determine based on information we have that it was a primary cause or reason.”
Falsifying physical evidence is a Class B felony, punishable by as many as seven years in prison. Veroneau will be arraigned May 6 at Concord’s district court.