Concord – March 31, 2010 — Erica Blizzard, the Laconia woman convicted earlier this month of negligent homicide in a fatal boat accident on Lake Winnipesaukee, has been ordered to stay off the road until her sentencing.
Blizzard, 36, was cited for negligent driving at 6:35 p.m. March 19 – a day after her conviction for the 2008 crash that killed her close friend – when a state police trooper said he clocked her going 84 mph on Interstate 93. He reported almost being struck by Blizzard’s 2007 GMC Yukon as he signaled her to pull over.
“This was very egregious behavior,” Superior Court Judge Kathleen McGuire said before barring Blizzard from driving as she awaits her April 21 sentencing and replacing her personal recognizance bail with $75,000 cash or bond.
Blizzard was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs. Within an hour, her parents had posted $75,000 cash bail for her release.
Yesterday, Trooper Ronald Taylor testified that he had tracked Blizzard’s speed for about five seconds from 2,125 feet away as she approached him on I-93 northbound in New Hampton. He watched her pass a vehicle in the high-speed lane and move back into the travel lane behind two other cars.
Taylor then put his radar on the hood of his cruiser and stepped into the high-speed lane, waving his arms to slow down Blizzard and the two vehicles ahead of her. After the two vehicles had passed, Taylor, wearing a neon safety vest, said he stepped into the travel lane to signal Blizzard to stop.
He said Blizzard was talking on her cell phone, at one point taking it from her ear to look at it, and didn’t see him. Taylor said he stepped back to avoid being hit and yelled at her to pull over.
After coming to a stop about 100 feet down the road, Blizzard asked what was wrong. When Taylor told her that she had been speeding and nearly hit him, Blizzard explained that she was having trouble entering numbers into her phone, Taylor testified.
Taylor said he didn’t recognize Blizzard until she handed over her license. Afterward, Taylor called Belknap County Prosecutor James Carroll, who requested a review of Blizzard’s bail.
Jim Moir, Blizzard’s attorney, tried repeatedly to get Taylor to estimate the speed Blizzard was going when he said she nearly hit him. Taylor estimated that Blizzard was about 50 to 75 feet behind the car in front of her and going under the speed limit at that point.
Moir argued that Blizzard did not have enough time to stop before reaching Taylor. He said a negligent driving charge – as opposed to a standard speeding ticket – lacked merit.
“It’s not illegal to use your phone when you’re traveling the speed limit, right?” he asked.
But McGuire wasn’t convinced.
“Mr. Moir, could you speed this up please? I mean, I get the point,” she interjected during his questioning. When Moir had finished, McGuire wasted no time in handing down her decision.
“She clearly presented a danger to the other people in the community the way she was operating her vehicle that evening,” McGuire said, above Moir’s objections that Blizzard had not violated the conditions of her bail.
McGuire added that “frankly, she’s lucky the state’s not asking for her to be incarcerated.”
Blizzard is due in Laconia District Court on May 13 for the negligent driving citation. She faces 3½ to seven years in state prison for her negligent homicide conviction.
Carroll has not said whether he will retry Blizzard on two charges alleging she was drunk while operating the boat before the 2008 crash. The jury deadlocked in both cases, and McGuire declared mistrials.