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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Widow of Amherst man struck and killed in December urges driver face consequences

AMHERST – The widow of a former town fire chief who was struck and killed in front of his Amherst home in December is appealing to the County Attorney’s office to hold the driver accused of running him down accountable for his actions.

Travis Hobbs, the young Mont Vernon man police say was using his cellphone when the accident occurred, is facing one count each of negligent homicide and conduct after an accident, which resulted in injury or death. Both are felonies punishable by 3½ to seven years in State Prison. ...

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AMHERST – The widow of a former town fire chief who was struck and killed in front of his Amherst home in December is appealing to the County Attorney’s office to hold the driver accused of running him down accountable for his actions.

Travis Hobbs, the young Mont Vernon man police say was using his cellphone when the accident occurred, is facing one count each of negligent homicide and conduct after an accident, which resulted in injury or death. Both are felonies punishable by 3½ to seven years in State Prison.

Marilyn Bachman, whose husband John Bachman died of multiple injuries sustained in the Dec. 23 accident, wrote in a letter to prosecutors that she doesn’t “feel hatred” for Hobbs, but she also doesn’t want him “walking away from this without meaningful jail time and punishment.”

In her letter addressed to prosecutors Charlene Dulac and Rosemarie Balboni, which she also sent to The Telegraph, Marilyn Bachman pointed out that her husband didn’t die instantly and question if he would still be alive if Hobbs acted differently.

“Instead, he laid broken, bleeding and conscious, half-buried in the dirty snow” as he called out for help.

She addressed Hobbs and the accusations he faces for striking Bachman and never stopping his vehicle afterwards.

“Did Travis Hobbs provide the aid John so desperately needed? Did Travis Hobbs summon help for the victim of his inattention? No. Travis Hobbs failed to stop,” Bachman wrote.

Bachman said Hobbs “has my sympathy,” but she also “believes deeply that Travis Hobbs should be accountable for his action and poor judgment.”

Hobbs, 21, of 110 Brook Road, Mont Vernon, has pleaded not guilty to both charges and remains free on $50,000 personal recognizance and $1,000 cash bail pending his next scheduled court appearance, which is a dispositional hearing set for July 24 at Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester.

Prosecutors agreed to bail conditions that keep Hobbs out of jail as long as he remains in the custody of his parents, Jason and Tammy Hobbs, and that they report any violations to authorities.

Travis Hobbs may attend school or work, but cannot drive until his license is restored by the state Division of Motor Vehicles, according to court documents.

He also is prohibited from leaving New Hampshire without court permission and is ordered to have no contact with Bachman family members and refrain from using alcohol, illegal drugs and firearms, according to the agreement.

County Attorney Patricia LaFrance said Tuesday that her office sent a plea-bargain offer to Hobbs and his attorney, Eric Wilson, of Nashua, a common procedure in such cases.

LaFrance said she isn’t able to discuss the specific terms of the proposed plea bargain, but said it was crafted based on similar cases.

“There are no official guidelines … we look historically at other cases that are similar,” she said.

LaFrance also said family members of a victim are consulted before any plea bargains are agreed upon. She said the prosecution and defense will discuss with a judge the status of the plea bargain at the July 24 hearing.

Whatever the plea bargain was, it didn’t sit well with Marilyn Bachman, who wants Hobbs to spend some time in prison.

“John knew he was dying” as he lay in the snow, she said. “It would have been far less cruel had he died instantly … instead, he didn’t succumb to his grievous injuries until sometime later.

“We will always wonder if John could have been saved if Travis Hobbs had stopped to face the consequences of his crime.”

Pam McKinney, John Bachman’s daughter, said she wasn’t able to discuss the plea bargain, but that the family has talked about it and is aware that it is part of the process.

As it stands now, the July 24 hearing will be followed by a trial management conference Aug. 28, with jury selection set for Sept. 8 and the trial estimated to begin Jan. 13 , according to documents.

Bachman was checking the mail in front of his 100 Merrimack Road home when the car Hobbs was driving allegedly struck him and knocked him into a snowbank. Hobbs left the scene but turned himself in to police later that day after hearing reports that a hit-and-run had occurred, police said.

Hobbs reportedly told police he thought he’d hit a snowbank.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).