Driver charged in Concord crash that killed cyclist

  • A memorial sign for Patrick Bettens sits at the roundabout in downtown Penacook. Bettens, a correctional officer at the state prison in Concord, was killed in a bike-vehicle crash in September. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor file

  • Jessica Warren. Concord police—Courtesy

  • Patrick Bettens —Courtesy

Published: 2/19/2019 3:51:40 PM

Concord police have charged the driver of a van that struck and killed a correctional officer on North Main Street in September.

Jessica Warren, 41, of Concord faces charges of vehicular assault and driving with a suspended or revoked license, both misdemeanors, and going over a yellow/solid line and following a vehicle too closely, both violations, in connection with the crash that killed Patrick Bettens.

The months-long investigation by Concord police found that Warren “was responsible for the crash in that she did not exercise due care” by driving too closely behind Bettens, police alleged in a press release.

The cyclist was heading north on Route 3 in September when Warren struck him from behind after Bettens moved into the road to avoid a UPS truck parked in the bike lane, according to witness statements.

Warren hit Bettens’s back tire, which caused him to fall off the bike and be struck by the vehicle. Witnesses reported that Warren’s vehicle then jumped the curb and headed back across the road, striking another vehicle.

Warren is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. on April 1 in Concord’s district court.

Bettens, 41, of Concord was employed by the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and worked in the men’s state prison in Concord. An athlete who loved to bike, run and swim, Bettens was training for a triathlon when he was killed this past fall.

According to police data reviewed by the Monitor, Bettens was the first bicyclist to be killed in Concord in a decade.

His death occurred in a period of decline for reported bike crashes in the city, going from 27 crashes in 2009 to six last year. Only four crashes were recorded last year.

The majority of those crashes were found to be the fault of bicyclists, with the biggest cause listed as “riding on the sidewalk.” In contrast, the most common instances where motorists were found to be at fault was when drivers failed to yield or use due care.

Most crashes resulted in non-incapacitating injuries, according to city data. About 22 resulted in a cyclist being taken to the hospital.

The Route 3 corridor that includes North Main Street has seen a collective eight bicycle-vehicle crashes since 2010, making it the third most dangerous place for cyclists behind Water/Manchester Streets and Loudon Road.

Bettens, a father of two, was remembered by his family and coworkers as being friendly and dedicated.

“When he found something he enjoyed, he’d work really hard,” Billy Bettens, Patrick Bettens’ cousin, told the Monitor in September. “He wouldn’t be the best, but he’d be good at it, you know what I mean?”

Fellow correctional officers said Bettens always greeted people with a smile. In the fall, they honored him with a remembrance of his life, followed by a procession to the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery.

Two staff members also donated a bench in his name; a staff weight room at the prison is currently being refurbished and will be called “The Patrick Bettens Fitness Center” when completed, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Laura Montenegro.

The community also rallied around the family, raising more than $24,000 in the months after Bettens’s death that was meant to help pay for his two sons’ college tuition, according to the GoFundMe description.

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