UNITY — Three Stevens High School students were killed in a crash on West Unity Road early Sunday morning. A fourth was hospitalized in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hithcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
State police have released the identity of only one of the crash victims, Brittany Bailey, 18, of Claremont.
Bailey died at the scene, police said, as did two 17-year-olds — one of whom was driving the black 1997 Saab 9000 that split in two when it hit a tree. A 17-year-old passenger suffered life-threatening injuries.
One of the many people who visited the crash site Sunday evening was Scott Foisy, 15, of Unity who said he went to Stevens High in Claremont with the teens. Brittany had just graduated in June, he said. The other three were two boys and a girl who were to be seniors at the high school this fall, he said.
“It’s just really scary to think it happens so suddenly,” Foisy said. “It’s a scary thought to think that a couple of months ago I was sitting and laughing in a classroom with these people, and I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see them.”
Unity is a town of fewer than 2,000 residents about 10 miles southwest of Claremont.
State police were notified of the crash at 2:10 a.m. Sunday.
State Police said it does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors. The initial investigation revealed that the Saab was traveling northbound on West Unity Road at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control.
“This caused the black 1997 Saab 9000 to travel off the roadway striking a tree, splitting the vehicle in two separate pieces,” state police said in a news release.
The giant oak was in the front yard of Larry and Diana Owen’s home, 758 West Unity Road.
“I was asleep,” Larry Owen said. “I heard it when it hit. My wife heard the screeching tires. She had just gotten up, couldn’t sleep, went out to the kitchen to get a glass of milk. I’ve been in shock and trying to deal with it.”
“The tree was 150 years old and it saved our lives,” Diana Owen said.
“Otherwise the car would have gone right through our bedroom,” Larry Owen said.
Owen said as far as he could tell, the two girls in the crash were in the back seat. The survivor was writhing on the ground in pain, Larry Owen said.
Owen said he did not know the teens, but had been talking to their friends and families all day as they came to the crash site to grieve.
The owners of Out of the Ordinary pizza restaurant on Pleasant Street in Claremont, where one of the teens worked, brought flowers, candles and other items to create a small shrine.
Around 6 p.m. Sunday, a crowd started to gather at the crash site, with teens and adults bringing bouquets. One woman carrying flowers into a nearby field where one of the teens was thrown from the car stopped and collapsed on the grass.
SAU #6 Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin said in an email Sunday evening that he has sent a “School Reach phone, text, and email messages to all parents of Unity, Cornish and Claremont students” notifying the school community that “Three students were killed. The fourth student is in critical condition at DHMC.”
He added: “Out of respect to the families, we are not releasing the students’ names at this time.”
The crash investigation is being handled by the State Police Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Unit with assistance by the members of New Hampshire State Police, Troop C Barracks. Assisting on scene were members of the Unity Fire & Rescue, and Lempster Fire & Rescue.
Anyone that has information related to the crash is asked to contact Trooper Thomas Conlon at 603-223-4381 or by email at email@example.com.