By Angeljean Chiaramida
The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.
BEDFORD, N.H. — Those who think some creative story-telling is all it takes to wiggle out of a speeding ticket may want to rethink that option. A Nashua, N.H., woman is now paying the penalty for her lie.
According to Lt. Christopher Wagner, commander of Troop B of New Hampshire State Police, about 9 p.m. on Friday, while patroling the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack, Trooper Christopher Cummings pulled over a woman for allegedly driving 82 mph in a 65 mph zone. That's when the 28-year-old driver, Carley Williams, told Cummings she was speeding because her father was dying, and she was trying to get to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., before he died.
Based on the information Williams gave, the spontaneity and emotions she displayed at the time, Cummings believed her and allowed her to continue her travel with a warning to slow down, Wagner said.
"It isn't that we condone speeding — we don't. Speed kills," Wagner said. "But he stopped the behavior by pulling her over and he warned her. Then he let her go to get to her dying father."
But if Williams thought she was in the clear, she was wrong.
Following the stop, Catholic Medical Center was contacted and Cummings learned the hospital had no patient there with the name Williams gave him for her fatally ill dad. Then, Williams' situation got worse when Cummings researched the name on the Internet and found Williams' father had died in 2008. To make matters worse, he found she was driving with suspended plates.
"She violated the trust between the police and the public," Wagner said. "It isn't that we don't understand that people lie to us. We do. It's that this just crossed the line."
With evidence in hand, on Sunday afternoon Cummings pulled up to Williams' Nashua home. The visit surprised her, Wagner said, and she tried to stick to her story. When confronted with her father's obituary, Williams continued the deception at first, but later fully admitted that the obituary was her father's.
In the end, Williams was arrested and booked, charged with driving after registration suspension and speeding. Williams faces high fines if she's found guilty, but no jail time, Wagner said.
"Part of this story is good police work by Trooper Cummings," Wagner said. "But I'd say 99 percent of our people would do the same."
Troopers are taught to follow up, even on the small things, according to state police Capt. John LeLacheur.
"It's common for people to come up with excuses for why they're speeding," LeLacheur said. "When it comes to an excuse about a hospital you have to be as sympathetic as possible. Many times, troopers will have dispatch call the hospital to verify the story while the driver is still sitting at the stop."
Lt. Christopher Vetter, commander of N.H. State Police Troop A, said he's had any number of occasions when emergencies have been used for an excuse for speeding. Checking on the excuse is procedure.
"It probably happens more often than you know and you never learn about it because we find the excuse is valid," Vetter said.
Wagner said the N.H. State Police is sympathetic to personal emergencies, but the law enforcement agency's primary objective is "to protect life and property through the traditions of fairness, professionalism and integrity."
According to Wagner, within reason, people will be allowed to continue on their way during emergency situations when police can ensure the safety of the general public.
"Circumstances such as this one, however, will result in the appropriate action taking place," he added.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 The Daily News of Newburyport