Mom calls loss of daughter who died in freak I-93 accident ‘devastating’

Last modified: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Carole Anderson can still see her daughter standing in the house she had just bought with her second husband, laughing at the deep sink she had always wanted, reveling in the joy of buying a new home where her family could grow old.

In that moment, her mother said Kerry Anderson-Baker was happy, purely happy.

“She said to me, ‘This is where Hans and I are going to spend the rest of our lives together,’ ” Anderson said. “She was standing right in the kitchen, right next to her deep sink.”

Anderson-Baker, 40, of Concord, died Wednesday in a freak accident on Interstate 93 near the Hooksett rest area. She was driving to her job at Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Mass., when a tire flew off a nearby trailer carrying a modular home. The large tire crossed into northbound traffic, ricocheted off the front of a state police cruiser and then slammed into Anderson-Baker’s car in the southbound lane.

The state police said she died on impact.

Anderson got a worried call from her daughter’s husband Wednesday, saying he hadn’t been able to reach his wife all morning, and he needed her mother to come over.

“There were two state police officers when I got there, but I knew before I got there. . . . I just knew,” Anderson said. “I wish I was wrong.”

Anderson, who lives in Hill, adopted her daughter from Korea when she was 6 months old.

“She’s been my daughter since they put her in my arms,” Anderson said.

“To lose her is devastating.”

The accident that caused Anderson-Baker’s sudden death is under investigation by state police and Merrimack County Attorney Scott Murray’s office.

Murray will determine whether criminal charges should be filed in the case. Allen Condon, 51, of Oakfield, Maine, was driving the trailer belonging to the Maine-based modular home company Crawford Homes.

Condon did not stop at the time of the accident and may not have realized the wheel had fallen off the trailer, the police said.

“It’s not just a criminal investigation,” Murray said. “There are motor vehicle regulations involved.”

Lt. John Degin of New Hampshire State Police Troop G, which is handling the investigation, said the trailer from Condon’s truck has been brought back from Maine, where the state police located the driver Wednesday at a rest stop.

“Because of the degree of the investigation that we’re doing here, we’re going to go through the trailer with a pretty fine-tooth comb,” Degin said.

Degin said inspecting the trailer could be completed within the next couple weeks. He will need to prove the loose wheel came from Condon’s five-axle trailer, and then figure out why the wheel came off in the middle of traffic.

“There’s a lot of things going on simultaneously to determine: What was the condition of the vehicle? What should the condition of the vehicle have been? Have there been previous issues with the vehicle?” Degin said. “Is there something the driver should have noticed?”

Records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show the six trucks and two drivers employed by Crawford Homes had not been involved in an accident in the last 24 months, before Wednesday.

However, Crawford Homes trucks have been taken out of service by an inspector for concerns during eight of 11 random roadside stops during those past 24 months. That means Crawford Homes vehicles have not passed more than 70 percent of their random inspections; the national average is approximately 20 percent.

Concerns that took a truck out of service included improper breakaway or emergency braking, inoperable lamps or turn signals, and a tractor carrying too much weight for its tires.

Crawford Homes has not responded to calls for comment.

Degin said the investigation could be completed in 30 to 90 days.

“A lot of the questions are unanswered right now, but as we start to look into this and do interviews with drivers and witnesses and we start looking at the vehicle, we’ll get a pretty good idea of what happened here,” he said.

Removed from the investigation, away from driving records and vehicle inspections, Carole Anderson is trying to make arrangements for her daughter’s funeral and process her death. Her daughter won’t be at family gatherings with her husband of two years and three children – her two teenage sons and her 7-year-old stepdaughter. She won’t be at Lawrence General Hospital, working as a project manager in a job she loved. She won’t be spending the day shopping with her mom or playing with her little black dog.

She won’t be laughing next to that deep kitchen sink.

“Everything was coming together. . . . She finally found someone she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. . . . She loved her work,” her mother said. “And it’s all gone . . . for a stupid tire coming off a truck. Who dies that way? I can’t even think of it.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)