Keene political activist: Remember the Nashua ducks with vigil
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON Union Leader Correspondent
NASHUA — A political activist from Keene has organized a candlelight vigil to recognize the five ducks that were killed outside of a city hotel this past December.
Although the event is not officially part of the New Hampshire Liberty Forum, it will coincide with the three-day conference being held this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
“These ducks have brought joy to thousands of people who visit the Crowne Plaza. Why shouldn’t we mourn their loss?” said Keith Carlsen, organizer of the short, informal memorial service that will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday outside of the hotel where the ducks were run over.
Sunday will represent the two-month anniversary of the tragedy, said Carlsen, an ideal time to peacefully recognize the fallen ducks.
State Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, has repeatedly apologized for running over the ducks with his car after having a few drinks on Dec. 23 at the Crowne Plaza. Campbell maintains that he was not intoxicated when he killed the ducks; police investigated and charged him with the illegal taking of waterfowl.
Although Campbell paid a fine of $620 for the violation, along with a $75 restitution payment and a donation of $695 to New Hampshire Audubon, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the details of the case and at least one city official maintains that Campbell should step down from his House position.
Meanwhile, Thomas Pappas, chairman of the Nashua Police Commission, resigned earlier this month because of his involvement in the matter. Pappas picked Campbell up the night of the accident and later called police on Campbell’s behalf, asking if his friend could come into the station the following day.
Carlsen, the New Hampshire state chairman for Young Americans for Liberty and the 2009 New Hampshire Liberty Alliance Activist of the Year, says he will withhold commenting on the politics of the case until the attorney general’s investigation is concluded.
He is hopeful the state agency will take its time thoroughly looking into the circumstances of the accident considering five innocent ducks were killed.
According to Carlsen, many people have come to love and appreciate the ducks that congregate outside of the city hotel. He does not blame hotel management for the accident, but actually credits its employees for handling the matter appropriately.
“This event is not about the publicity, it is about taking a few minutes to reflect on what happened that night,” he said. “People may think twice about drinking and driving.”
Carlsen expects to deliver a short speech and offer a moment of silence while lighting five candles representing the five ducks.
Campbell, who is currently serving his seventh term in the House and serves as chairman of the Capital Budget Overview Committee and the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, was not charged with drunken driving for the incident.
Following the accident, Campbell said in a written statement: “I continue to be extremely sorry and take full responsibility for causing the death of five ducks. … My actions were unintentional, yet hurtful. … I apologize and ask forgiveness from those I have offended, and from others that may judge me solely on the basis of this very unfortunate accident.”
Since Pappas’ resignation on Feb. 5, Campbell has not returned phone calls or emails from the Union Leader seeking comment.