Still No Charges for License-less Driver Who Caused Fatal Crash

Police say there "are developments" in the case against Darriean Hess, who was stopped for speeding and driving without a license shortly before the crash.

Darriean Hess, 20, of Seabrook. [CREDIT: Facebook.com]
Darriean Hess, 20, of Seabrook. [CREDIT: Facebook.com]

[Original story posted at 4:23 p.m. Update posted at 4:51 p.m.]

Charges still haven't been filed for the Seabrook woman who caused a crash that killed two cyclists on a Hampton bridge Saturday, although police have released information stating the woman was cited for speeding and driving without a license roughly eight hours before the crash.

Hampton Deputy Police Chief Rich Sawyer said Darriean Hess, 20, of Seabrook, was pulled over after doing 59 in a 30-mph zone while crossing north over the Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge at 12:45 a.m. Saturday. 

Hess initially told the officer who stopped her that she didn't have her license on her, but later told the officer that she didn't actually have a license, according to Sawyer. Sawyer said "there is no indication" Hess "has ever had a valid license" in New Hampshire, Massachusetts or any other state.

Hess was issued a summons for the offenses and "released from the scene after a friend with a valid license arrived to retrieve" Hess' vehicle, a 2002 Honda Civic, according to Sawyer.

Less than eight hours later, Hess was driving that same vehicle south over the Underwood Bridge — which spans Route 1A — when she crossed into the northbound lane and struck four cyclists, two of whom succumbed to their injuries.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sawyer declined to speak Monday about possible charges and additional circumstances surrounding the investigation into the accident.

"There are developments," he said, adding that officers are "keeping consistent contact with the families of the victims" to keep them "appraised of the developments" of the investigation. "We will keep [the public] appraised of those developments without compromising the investigation."

Sawyer previously told Patch that Hess' vehicle "veered over into the northbound lane" for unknown reasons, struck the cyclists and "road along" various structures, curbing and sidewalk on the bridge "for a distance" before it "popped back onto the road," "crossed back over" into the southbound lane, and "hit several road signs." 

The vehicle came to a stop after it "decimated" the "Welcome to Seabrook Beach" sign, according to Sawyer.

Hess voluntarily submitted to alcohol and drug testing following the crash, and Sawyer said his department is still waiting on the results of those screenings.

The department is also looking into the possibility that Hess may have been distracted behind the wheel, whether due to the use of a cell phone or for other reasons.

"We're investigating all possibilities, [including] the possibility that she may have been on the phone," said Sawyer, who said police would do that with any accident of this nature.

Lorri September 24, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Hess has a warrant out for her
Ron Powell September 24, 2013 at 07:37 PM
A few things: many have wondered why Hess wasn't arrested the first time she was cited for driving without a license. Well, because driving without a license in NH is a summary offense, at least for first time offenders. If you are caught for a second time in a 12-month period driving without a license, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Second, regarding the charges negligent homicide and second-degree assault. Neither requires intent, only that death or serious injury occurred as a result of reckless behavior, and, in the latter case, an "extreme indifference to the value of human life." Both are Class B felonies; however, negligent homicide can be upgraded to a Class A felony if the driver was driving under the influence. Lastly, while it might be tempting to assume that alcohol or drugs might play a factor, I wonder. Teens and young 20-somethings party, drink alcohol, and get high. But how many of them are out on the road at 8:30 on a Sunday morning? The only ones on the road at that time are usually either on their way to work or church. It's possible, but not very likely in my opinion. Sympathies go out to everyone affected by this tragic and senseless loss.
Ron Powell September 24, 2013 at 08:25 PM
According to the Eagle Tribune, the Hess family is originally from the West Coast, and moved from Alaska to Seabrook around 1996. In June 2007, when Darriean was 13, Darriean’s mother, Cheri Hess, 48, died unexpectedly after she collapsed while working in her garden. Darriean’s father was incarcerated, so there was no one to take care of Darriean and her four siblings. Her older sister Cassandra Clifton was raising Darriean and an older sibling since 2007.


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