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Thursday, February 25, 2010

A family beset by tragedy

The past five years have been profoundly tragic for the Stanleys, with several family members killed in motor vehicle accidents across southern New Hampshire.

Most recently, Esau “Ace” Stanley Jr., 32, of Derry, was killed May 2, 2008, when he lost control of his Corvette while driving along Rockingham Road (Route 28), just miles from his home. The car crashed into a wooded area, and Esau Stanley died at the scene, while his wife, Michelle, suffered minor injuries, the Derry News reported.

The newspaper reported that over 1,000 friends and relatives gathered at Stanley’s home for his wake. He grew up in Derry, and had moved back there after living for a time in Amherst, his family said.

Esau Stanley left four children, and his father, Esau “Ace” Stanley Sr., of Derry, said his son would have been the fourth-generation to take over the family business, Ace Paving of Derry.

An accident on Aug. 8, 2007, claimed the lives of Tonya Wells, 24, the girlfriend of Joseph Stanley, then 24, formerly of 18 Cross St., Salem, and their daughter, the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., reported.

Wells was killed when she fell or jumped out of Stanley’s truck as he was driving along Island Pond Road in Derry, the paper reported, citing police reports. Wells was just days from her expected delivery date, and the baby, Rachel Lee, died 11 days after the crash.

Wells and Stanley had been together six years, and had three sons, aged one to five at the time, the paper reported. Joseph Stanley was doing business at the time as “Massive Paving,” the paper reported.

Joseph Stanley told family members that Wells had opened the truck door and threatened to jump out while the couple argued, but that he believed she hadn’t been serious, and actually fell out by accident. Stanley was only driving at about 20 miles an hour, he said, but Wells was run over by the back wheel of his pickup truck.

A witness who came upon the accident scene told the paper that Stanley was weeping so inconsolably that she thought at first he was having a seizure.

“He’s heartbroken. He lost his best friend,” an uncle told the paper.

Finally, in 2005, two Stanley brothers from Hudson were killed when their car crashed in Hudson while they were attempting to flee from police.

Joseph C. Stanley, 27, of Hudson was killed at the scene of the crash, at Lawrence and Dugout Roads, on March 27, 2005, and his brother William Stanley, 30, was thrown from the car and died later in a hospital.

Police reported that Joseph Stanley fled after being pulled over by a Windham Police officer on suspicion of driving drunk. Joseph Stanley had been charged with DWI in Nashua the year before, and police said he drove off when the officer asked for his license and registration.

William Stanley had an extensive driving record, and had been listed as a habitual offender for 12 years before the crash. He had been handicapped by a broken back following a crash in 1999, and he also had been accused of fleeing from police after being stopped for speeding on Interstate 93 in 2002.

Joseph C. Stanley left four children, aged three through eight at the time of his death. His brother left four children, then aged eight through 11.

Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 603-594-6410 or awolfe at nashuatelegraph.com.