MANCHESTER — A Superior Court judge continued bail conditions for Travis Hobbs, the 21-year-old Mont Vernon man accused in the hit-and-run death of former Amherst Fire Chief John Bachman, but denied Hobbs' request that he be allowed to drive to and from school and work.
Judge Diane Nicolosi, presiding in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Northern District, said the accusations — that Travis Hobbs was texting on his cellphone while driving a pickup truck on Dec. 23, 2013 when he struck 71-year-old Bachman — suggested bad judgment on the part of Hobbs in using his cellphone.
Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Charlene Dulac objected to Hobbs being allowed to drive while out on $50,000 personal recognizance bail on felony charges of conduct after an accident and negligent homicide. The indictments, issued April 17, alleged Hobbs struck Bachman because he was using his cellphone and not paying attention to the road while driving his vehicle.
Hobbs waived arraignment on those charges.
Hobbs, Dulac said, was arguing with a girl and "self-admitted" he was texting her at the time of the collision. While there was no indication that any drugs or alcohol were involved, Dulac said Hobbs was traveling at 37 mph in a posted 30 mph zone and had his eyes off the road for 7.3 seconds when he struck Bachman.
"It was a pretty hard hit," she said. Hobbs "obviously knew he hit something and he didn't stop. He kept going."
Bachman's wife, Marilyn, found her husband lying in a snow bank at the end of the driveway of their 100 Merrimack Road home in Amherst. Bachman was taken by ambulance to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua where he later died.
The crash happened about 1 p.m. on a stretch of straight road with a clear view for about 400 feet, Dulac said. Bachman was hit as he was getting his mail from his mailbox.
Attorney Eric Wilson, in arguing for the change in bail conditions, said Hobbs had to "disenroll" from New Hampshire Community College in Nashua and quit part-time jobs because he had no way to get to them.
"We're simply asking that he be permitted to drive to school and to and from work," Wilson said.
He said Hobbs' parents, who both work, tried to provide the needed transportation but just were unable to do it. Hobbs, he told the judge, has not obtained a new cellphone.
Wilson said the day of the accident Hobbs was driving an older pickup truck that was new to him, and that the side-view mirror was held on with duct tape. He was heading home after being at his grandfather's in Pelham, whom he worked for, and had Christmas presents piled up in the truck, blocking the rear-view mirror.
At the time of the accident, Hobbs thought he hit a snowbank, which dislodged the side mirror, Wilson said, although he later said Hobbs thought he hit a mailbox or a tree.
After, Hobbs sent a text to a girl saying he thought he'd hit a mailbox, according to Wilson. When he heard news reports of the fatal accident, Hobbs went to the police station and turned over his cellphone. Blood was drawn and there was no indication of any drugs or alcohol. Wilson also said Hobbs has no motor vehicle record.
While he has not obtained all of the investigative files, Wilson said he believes Hobbs told police his cellphone had a voice-texting capability. He said Hobbs voiced a text and was checking it to ensure the auto correct had correctly interpreted what he said when the accident happened.
One bail condition, set when Hobbs was originally arraigned Dec. 24 in Nashua, is that he continue to live with his parents at 110 Brook Road, Mont Vernon.