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Rochester crash damages a dozen gravestones

Union Leader Correspondent

February 03. 2014 7:47PM
Several gravestones were damaged in a historic Rochester cemetery after a vehicle drove off Franklin Street Sunday evening. The city is evaluating the damage as police continue to investigate the matter. (John Quinn)

ROCHESTER — City officials must determine how much it will cost to restore about a dozen gravestones, including one from a Civil War veteran from 6th Regiment Infantry, Company H, which were knocked over or shattered Sunday.

Police, firefighters and emergency personnel responded around 6:05 p.m. after an eastbound Chevrolet Colorado, driven by Robert Rivard, 47, of Rochester, left the road and drove into the Franklin Street Cemetery.

City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick said he expects repairs won't be made until the spring or whenever the snow finally clears. He added this will give him time to meet with the cemetery trustees, who have jurisdiction.

"There's a separate trust for each cemetery," Fitzpatrick said.

It is unclear whether Rivard will have to pay for the damage, but it is a possibility — pending the outcome of the investigation.

Sgt. Eric Babine said cemetery officials will be evaluating the damage, especially since some of the gravestones were from the 1800s.

Babine said no charges have been filed. He added no other vehicles appeared to be involved and police determined speed, alcohol or distracted driving did contribute to the incident.

Rivard was wearing a seat belt and airbags deployed. He was sent to Frisbie Memorial Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.

The Chevy sustained extensive front end damage and was towed.

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