Still waiting for a trial, family gathers to remember Angelica Lane two years after fatal crash

  • Michelle Lane with her daughter-in-law Chantelle, left, and niece Lily during a Celebration of Life in memory of her daughter, Angelica Lane. Melissa Curran photos / For the Monitor

  • Angelica's parents, Michelle and Chris Lane, in the backyard of their home in Loudon on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Melissa Curran—Courtesy

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    "Jelly's Corner" in Michelle and Chris Lane's home in Loudon on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Melissa Curran—Courtesy

  • Angelica Lane, known to all as “Jelly,” was the youngest in her extended family.

  • Leela, the dachshund that Angelica used to love to spoil, and Dunkin, the Italian greyhound, sitting on the couch in the Lane home in Loudon on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Melissa Curran—Courtesy

  • Angelica Lane's family gathers at home on Saturday, June 19. From left are brother Zach, father Chris, mother Michelle and sister Sam. Melissa Curran—Courtesy

  • Angelica's parents, Michelle and Chris Lane, in the backyard of their home in Loudon on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Melissa Curran—Courtesy

  • Friends and family gathered for a Celebration of Life memorial for Angelica Lane in Loudon on Saturday. Melissa Curran / For the Monitor

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    Angelica "Jelly" Lane —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 6/26/2021 1:44:21 PM

Michelle and Chris Lane’s white house on Route 106 in Loudon has always been a place of celebration – birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, even their own wedding – for generations.

But now it is also a place of sadness. Two years ago, their daughter Angelica died at the edge of the driveway in a chain-reaction car accident on the busy road.

On her way home from work on June 23, 2019, Angelica, whom everyone called “Jelly,” waited in her black Lexus to make a left turn into her driveway. Police say Maggie Doorlag, who was driving a gray Jeep, rear-ended the Lexus, pushing it into the southbound lane where it was struck head-on by a silver Dodge cruising in the opposite direction. Officers pronounced Angelica Lane dead at the scene.

On June 19, just before the anniversary of the accident, the family gathered for the second time to celebrate Jelly. Chris grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steaks. Cousins, aunts and uncles ran around throwing a football and swinging from the various rope swings tied to a large tree on the front lawn.

More than 50 people came to remember Jelly, who would have turned 24 on June 1. At the end of the night, the family set off fireworks in her memory.

It had already been a tough week. On Monday, the family gathered in their living room to watch the final pretrial hearing in the court case accusing Doorlag of causing the fatal accident. Police say Doorlag had been drinking that night and was intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to court documents.

Watching the court hearing on a computer, the Lane family learned the case would be delayed once more, with another pretrial hearing set for Nov. 15. Now they wait, again, as they seek justice for their daughter.

Remembering Jelly

She was always the baby of the family with two older siblings and 11 older cousins. She worked as a nurse and was a Taco Bell fanatic.

Her parents, older sister Sam, an aunt and two cousins gathered again at the Lane home talking about Jelly on the second anniversary of her death, on June 23.

“She loved the little kids. She’d be playing with them if she were here,” said aunt Kim Schofield.

Her sister Sam laughed as she remembered how she put a lock on her closet door to stop Jelly from stealing her clothes. She later found the lock picked and Jelly in a new outfit from her closet.

“She was always a little fashionista, too. If she didn’t have a clean outfit or couldn’t find something to wear, she’d just go to Walmart,” said cousin Gabrielle Schofield, as the group sat in lawn chairs under the sun.

But she also had a mischievous side to her. On the 18 acres of land where the house sits, a trail runs around the property. When she was little, Jelly knew when her grandpa would take his afternoon nap. She would sneak in, grab the keys to his golf cart and take Gabrielle for a ride around the property.

“Jelly was a little wild, on the freer side. She just liked the wilder side of life, especially as a young kid,” said Sam.

But most of all, she was there for people, her mother would say. As a nurse, she did in-home patient care and also worked at a nursing home.

“She was very empathetic. She was a nurse. She took care of people,” said Michelle.

The family has two memorials dedicated to Jelly on the property, a bench and a painted rock. A local concrete company donated the bench to the family. A blue-painted wooden angel statue sits on a stake in the ground next to the bench, which overlooks miles of greenery. Michelle goes up there frequently for a moment of silence to remember her daughter.

“This is a spot up here that is so peaceful and beautiful,” she said.

Further up the hill, Chris placed a large rock. In blue block letters, the words “Jelly’s rock” are painted on the front edge. White, green and yellow painted handprints, butterflies, flowers and suns decorate the flat stone top.

On the front porch of the house, three wreaths hang above the bench where Chris and Jelly used to have their morning coffee together. The flowers have dried, but the family has no plans to take them down.

“I always made extra coffee. We both like our coffee extra, extra sweet,” he said.

Inside, there are signs of their daughter in every room. Written on the beam of a door frame, “Jelly was here.” On another wall, “Hi, JML” is scribbled.

“She liked to leave her mark,” said Chris.

“Jelly’s Corner” lies next to the door in the living room. On a bookcase, the family adds photos and items to memorialize Jelly. Along with framed photos, they have her driver’s license, her nursing badge and even a clump of hair from her brush that Chris found in one of their cars. Butterflies also decorate the shelves.

“After she passed away, even the week between her accident and the wake, more butterflies than I’ve ever seen living here in my entire life. Just everywhere,” said Sam. “So we correlate butterflies with her.”

The court case

Doorlag was arrested just hours after the crash and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

A New Hampshire State Police Trooper said she failed a field sobriety test and told him she had been drinking after getting off work. Police obtained a warrant to draw her blood, which was taken at the Concord Police Department and sealed as evidence by state police.

Within a matter of weeks, prosecutors reviewed the case and brought a more serious felony charge of negligent homicide.

The original trial date in Merrimack Superior Court was set for July 11, 2019. Doorlag pleaded not guilty and waived the arraignment on July 10. Jury selection, which was set to happen on Sept. 22, 2020, was canceled due to the pandemic.

Despite COVID, Doorlag found herself before a judge again in last January, after prosecutors said they had received reports that Doorlag had continued to drink in public and was seen purchasing an 18-pack of beer at Cumberland Farms.

Doorlag’s original bail restrictions, implemented after her arrest, barred her from drinking excessively. The judge modified her bail and ordered Doorlag not to purchase alcohol or enter any establishments where people are drinking.

Finally, the case seemed back on track this month after thousands of other criminal trials across the state were put on hold. But the Lanes learned they would have to wait at least another five months before the case moved forward.

“There are still expert reports forthcoming. Therefore, even though the case is two years old, it will not be ready for trial in August,” Judge Andrew Schulman said.

The next hearing is set for Nov. 15, with a likely trial in January 2022. By then, Doorlag should have had another baby.

“She’s raising a wonderful daughter. She is going to deliver another child in about two weeks,” said Mark Sisti, Doorlag’s attorney.

Sisti said he will be disputing all of the charges during the trial.

“We are contesting that she caused the death. We are contesting that she caused the accident, and we are contesting that she was intoxicated,” he said.

The Lanes wish Doorlag would have accepted some responsibility.

“Just own up to it. Just be like ‘OK, I made a mistake, I did this, I am very sorry.’ Serve your jail time,” said Jelly’s cousin, Kayla Morse.

When the case first began, the Lanes found comfort in going to the courtroom to be there for Jelly. Watching the trial on a live stream has been harder for them.

“Going through the steps to be able to go to court and having the hearings, it was healing for us in a sense,” said Morse. “When COVID hit and we weren’t allowed to go to court and be there, it feels like we don’t get to be there for her, speaking on behalf of my cousin who isn’t here anymore and that hurts us.”

Sisti said he understands the Lanes’ heartache but wants to avoid a rush to judgment.

“Maggie’s a wonderful human being. She works extremely hard,” he said. “She works every day. She is a caring, feeling, human being.”

It was a tragic accident for all parties involved, he said.

“She was involved in a terrible accident. She grieves with the Lane family,” he said.

The road

The accident was not the first for the Lane family on Route 106. Chris acknowledged it is one of the three most dangerous roads in the state.

A two-lane freeway, the speed limit on the road is 55 mph, however, many drive much faster.

When Sam was in kindergarten, Michelle got into a car accident outside the house. Another time, the family was in the car when they were hit turning into the driveway and spun around. Michelle was hospitalized for three days after the accident.

Recently, the state widened the road and added a turning lane outside their house.

“Before it was scary. Your knuckles were white. And you just kept looking, kept looking and looking,” said sister Sam.

After the accident, a common question circles the Lane family: “Are you going to move?”

Their answer is a resounding no.

“This has been me, my brother and my sister’s entire life. This 18 acres of property,” said Sam.

Through celebrations and tragedy, the house grounds them.

“This is a garage, it’s a junkyard, it’s a family home, it’s where people got married, it’s where we had all of our parties, where the family really came together here, specifically with all of the land,” said cousin Gabrielle. “So with her death being here, I feel like we’re also very drawn to just being here.”

As they continue to wait, the Lane family plans to share Jelly’s story.

“We gonna keep talking about it. We’re definitely not the family that is just going to stay quiet,” Gabrielle said.

Most importantly, they want Jelly’s name to be remembered ahead of the trial.

“I don’t want this to be a Maggie Doorlag case,” Sam said. “This is the Angelica Lane case because she died.”


MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.



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