AMHERST — The 20-year-old man accused of negligent homicide in the death of a former Amherst fire chief will be back in court next week.
Travis Hobbs of Mont Vernon was allegedly using his cell phone — possibly texting or checking his email — when the car he was driving struck and killed John Bachman, 71, on Dec. 23 outside of Bachman’s Amherst home, according to police.
Hobbs, who eventually turned himself in to police, told authorities he thought he hit a snowbank on Merrimack Road and continued driving.
Bachman, who was getting mail at the end of his driveway at the time of the accident, died of his injuries at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.
A court clerk said this week that Hobbs’ probable cause hearing originally scheduled for this past Monday was continued at the request of Hobbs’ attorney. The hearing has been rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 at the 9th Circuit Court, Milford District Division, said the clerk.
Hobbs, a graduate of Souhegan High School, has been free on $50,000 personal recognizance and $1,000 cash-only bail since his arraignment on Dec. 24. Hobbs, currently a student at Nashua Community College, has been ordered by a judge to not drive a motor vehicle and to continue living with his parents in Mont Vernon.
If the court finds probable cause, the negligent homicide charge against Hobbs will be introduced to a Hillsborough County Superior Court grand jury for a possible indictment. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
Bachman’s death, coupled with other distracted driving accidents recently in New Hampshire, has prompted local fire officials to launch a campaign against texting and driving.
“His sudden passing has gripped the Amherst Fire Department and our community of fire and emergency services throughout the region,” says a posting on the department’s website.
Amherst Fire Chief Mark Boynton and Lt. Chris Buchanan are asking drivers to take a pledge to not text and drive in an effort to avoid additional car accidents related to cell phone use.
“It was reported by authorities that texting while driving was allegedly a key part of the fatal accident that took Chief Bachman’s life. Such incidents so close to home remind us all of the very real dangers of distracted driving,” says the posting.