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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nashua police investigate report of state Rep. Campbell running over ducks at hotel

By JIM HADDADIN

Staff Writer

NASHUA – A Florida man called police last week after watching a state representative from Nashua plow his BMW into a crowd of ducks outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, reportedly killing one or more of the birds, then exiting the scene before police arrived.

Longtime state Rep. David Campbell, a Democrat, was behind the wheel of the BMW that struck several ducks outside the Crowne Plaza’s main entrance late Monday evening. ...

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NASHUA – A Florida man called police last week after watching a state representative from Nashua plow his BMW into a crowd of ducks outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, reportedly killing one or more of the birds, then exiting the scene before police arrived.

Longtime state Rep. David Campbell, a Democrat, was behind the wheel of the BMW that struck several ducks outside the Crowne Plaza’s main entrance late Monday evening.

“I hit some ducks,” Campbell said in an interview with The Telegraph. “Some people were feeding ducks on the driveway in front of the Crowne Plaza at 10 o’clock at night … and they didn’t move, and I hit some ducks.”

Campbell said he feels “terrible” about it, but declined to comment further about what took place until a police investigation into the matter concludes.

“I’d like to wait and see what they come out with,” Campbell said.

The incident was brought to light by retired U.S. Marine officer James Murphy, a Florida resident who was preparing to check into the hotel Monday evening when Campbell’s car collided with what he described as a pack of about 20 ducks in the road.

After flying into Manchester airport, Murphy took a shuttle to the Crowne Plaza. A group of ducks that inhabit the hotel grounds waddled up to the main entrance when he arrived, stopping beside his luggage.

Murphy said he had just tossed the ducks some crackers when he spotted Campbell’s dark sedan approaching from a side parking lot near the hotel entrance.

“All of a sudden, this 5 Series BMW comes up, it’s going about 15 miles an hour, and then when he gets to the ducks, it’s not like it even slowed down,” Murphy said.

“It just crushed all of the ducks.”

Murphy said he believes as many as six ducks were killed and a handful of others returned to the pond at the Crowne Plaza with apparent injuries.

Appalled by the scene, Murphy said he followed the BMW a few dozen feet down the road and took a picture of the license plate when the driver stopped.

He said a man wearing a navy blue suit with a white shirt and red tie got out, leaned against the side of the car and said words to the effect of, “The ducks should have moved.”

After exchanging words with the driver, Murphy said the man got back into his BMW and parked in the hotel’s nearby parking garage. Murphy said the man walked back toward the hotel, then headed toward the main entrance and left before he was interviewed by police.

Murphy said he called police because he was struck by the driver’s indifference.

“That was just a blatant disregard for just everyone involved,” Murphy said.

“It was kind of a surreal situation here, like, ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’ ”

The Crowne Plaza, on Somerset Parkway, has 178 guest rooms and offers a library, amphitheater and board room. The facility also houses a restaurant and bar called the Speaker’s Corner Bistro & Pub.

Campbell, a Nashua attorney, is serving his seventh term in the House, where he chairs the Public Works and Highways Committee. He also chairs the Capital Budget Overview Committee and the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee.

Campbell graduated with honors from Harvard College and Suffolk University Law School, and is admitted to the bar in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to biographical information available on his legislative profile.

Murphy said he had no clue who Campbell was at the time of the incident. His first clue that Campbell holds elected office came as he was photographing Campbell’s license plate, which bears the seal of the New Hampshire House.

A copy of the photograph shows a Boston Red Sox bumper sticker on the back of Campbell’s BMW, which has the plate number 3-16 –
a reference to Campbell’s seat on the House floor.

Nashua Police Lt. Mike Moushegian confirmed police were contacted about the incident at 10:08 p.m., but provided few other details. Moushegian said witnesses reported that a vehicle operated by Campbell struck and killed some ducks in front of the hotel.

“We are conducting an investigation,” Moushegian told The Telegraph on Thursday. “It’s still an open investigation, and therefore I’m not going to release any specifics about it.”

The Telegraph filed a Right to Know request with Nashua police on Thursday seeking copies of police records describing the incident. The department hadn’t responded as of Friday.

Reached by phone, Campbell declined to comment on why he left the hotel Monday night without speaking to police.

He said he later offered to come down to the police station for an interview when he was contacted by authorities.

“I talked to the police, and police are still investigating, and let’s leave it at that,” Campbell said.

New Hampshire law doesn’t require motorists to report hitting a wild animal, according to state Fish and Game Lt. Jim Juneau, a conservation officer supervising operations in five counties.

Juneau said Fish and Game officers were notified Monday night about the incident, but it doesn’t appear they tried to render medical help, given the severity of the ducks’ injuries.

“I don’t think there was anything that could be done at that point,” Juneau said.

Attempts to find out whether the injured ducks were cared for were unsuccessful. Representatives from the Crowne Plaza didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday. Nashua’s animal control officer was also unavailable for comment.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@ Telegraph_JimH).