January 28. 2014 2:22PM

Salem man sentenced to prison for fatal Manchester crash

MANCHESTER - A Salem man will spend 4 1/2 to 13 1/2 years in state prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a 2011 Interstate 293 crash that claimed the life of a Manchester woman and injured her sister.

Jeffrey Garcia, 36, pleaded guilty Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District, to negligent homicide, second degree assault and reckless conduct.

The crash happened about noon on Oct. 30, 2011, on I- 293 North.

Jennifer L. Caradonna, 30, was driving on I-93 in Londonderry when she attempted to pass Garcia.

Prosecutors said whether she sped up or slowed down, Garcia matched her speed, preventing her from passing.

As they both continued to Interstate 293 in Manchester, Garcia cut off Caradonna, causing her to lose control of her car, which rolled down an embankment and flipped over several times before landing in the median.

Caradonna and her sister, Melissa Caradonna, 28, of Manchester, who was in the passenger front seat, were both ejected. Neither was using a seat belt, police said.

Jennifer Caradonna died at the scene while her sister suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries. At the time of the crash, city District Fire Chief Michael N. Gamache said Melissa Caradonna was not breathing when fire crews responded to the scene and that a firefighter saved her life.

Three children in the backseat escaped without serious injuries.

Judge Gillian Abramson sentenced Garcia to the maximum sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years on the negligent homicide charge, with a consecutive 1 to 6 1/2 years on the second-degree assault count. He was given a 3 1/2- to 7-year sentence, suspended for 10 years from the date of his release from the New Hampshire State Prison, on the reckless-conduct charge.

His license to drive also was revoked for seven years upon his release from prison and he is to obtain a mental health evaluation.

Assistant county attorneys Lisa Drescher and Michael Zaino prosecuted the case, which was investigated by N.H. State Trooper Bryan Trask. Victim/witness advocate Catherine McNaughton assisted.