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Leah Fonda and Brian Preiss in their wedding photo. (COURTESY)

Somersworth man charged with manslaughter in bride's death

DOVER — A Somersworth man, originally charged with negligent homicide in a crash last summer that killed a Minnesota bride on her honeymoon and seriously injured the groom, is now facing manslaughter, a special felony charge that carries a 30-year prison sentence on conviction.

A Strafford County Superior Court grand jury issued the indictment against Matthew Tsopas, 44, formerly of 24 Blackwater Road, along with three felony counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated, alleging he caused serious bodily injury to the bridegroom, and one felony charge of reckless conduct.

Additionally, he was indicted on nine misdemeanor offenses — four simple assault charges alleging he assaulted three different people, as well as one attempted simple assault count — and four counts of conduct after an accident, accusing him of hitting four different vehicles in the parking lot at the American Legion in Rollinsford prior to the July 20 fatal crash.

Leah Fonda Preiss, 30, of St. Paul, Minn., and her husband, Brian Preiss, were on their honeymoon traveling through New England when the crash happened. The couple, both employees of the Mall of America amusement park, were in the ninth day of their honeymoon on their way to Niagara Falls when the crash happened.

According to indictments, Tsopas was under the influence of liquor, a controlled drug, prescription drug or a combination of all when he drove his Infiniti G35 in the wrong lane on Route 4 and collided with the Kia Spectra being operated by Brian Preiss. Leah Fonda Preiss died at the scene.

Brian Preiss, 30, was seriously injured, suffering skull fractures, a subdural hematoma and a broken wrist. He was transported to a Massachusetts hospital for treatment.

State police said Tsopas fled the scene but was located a short time later and brought to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. He was later arrested.

Prior to the crash, Tsopas allegedly hit three people — Brandon Driscoll, David Decker and Gail McGlone — in the head with his hand; threw a drink on McGlone, and tried to hit Decker with a stick. The indictments say only that the assaults took place in Rollinsford and do not specify the exact location.

A call for further information to Strafford County Attorney Thomas P. Velardi was not immediately returned.

Tsopas also allegedly struck four vehicles in the parking lot at the American Legion in Rollinsford and then left the scene. He later was involved in the Route 4 fatal crash.

Trace Adkins
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