Jul 22

St. Paul Woman on Honeymoon Killed in New Hampshire Crash

by Andy Greder – Pioneer Press – July 21, 2013

A newlywed St. Paul woman was killed on her honeymoon during a two-car crash with an apparent drunk driver in New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, said family and New Hampshire State Police. Lea Fonda, 30, died at a hospital after being a passenger in a Kia Spectra driven by her husband Brian Preiss, also 30 and of St. Paul, police said.

Leah Fonda & Brian Preiss

Leah Fonda & Brian Preiss

The two were recently wed and went to the East Coast for their honeymoon, said Preiss’ brother Philip Preiss. The driver of the second car, Matthew Tsopas, drifted over the center line in his Infiniti G35SX and struck Fonda and Preiss. Preiss was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with serious injuries, police said. Philip Preiss said he didn’t know the extend of his brother’s injuries.

Tsopas fled the crash scene, but was found a short time later, police said. “It appears that speed and driver impairment are factors in this crash, however, the crash still remains under investigation,” police said. Tsopas was arrested at the hospital and was charged with negligent homicide, felony driving under the influence of alcohol and felony conduct after an accident.

Hit-and-Run Claims Bride – Groom in Hospital after New Hampshire Crash

by Jack Encarnacao – Boston Herald – July 22, 2013

A heartbroken Minnesota groom is in intensive care in a Boston hospital in the wake of the senseless New Hampshire drunken hit-and-run that stole the life of his new bride, authorities and relatives said yesterday. “The two of them spent 10 years getting together,” said Jonnie Kunce, mother of bride Leah Fonda, “and they got to have eight days of being married.”

On Saturday at about 4:27 p.m., Brian Preiss, 30, of St. Paul, Minn., and his bride of one week, Leah Fonda, 30, longtime lovebirds and both Mall of America amusement park workers, were on their way to Niagara Falls when a car careened into their lane and struck them “in a near head-on fashion” on Route 4 in Rollinsford, said New Hampshire state police.

The driver, Matthew Tsopas, a 43-year-old man from Somersworth, N.H., then fled the scene. “He just left Brian and Leah to die,” Preiss’ uncle Chuck Czech said. “What kind of character does that?” Tsopas was eventually arrested and charged with negligent homicide, felony driving under the influence of alcohol and felony conduct after an accident. Fonda and Preiss were rushed to Wentworth Douglas Hospital in Dover, N.H., where she died. Preiss was then transported to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Preiss and Fonda were engaged in the fall and married July 12 in Bloomington, Minn., the culmination of a decade-long flirtation the two had at the amusement park where they both worked. “The wedding was wonderful,” said Kunce, Fonda’s aunt, who adopted her when she was a sophomore in high school. “It was small and elegant and perfect, just perfect. She was so beautiful.”

Kunce said Preiss, who took regular road trips, suggested a 17-day tour of New England for the couple’s honeymoon. “Leah had not traveled much, and it was something that he had set up and he had wanted to show her,” Kunce said of Preiss. “She had kind of an itinerary set up.” Czech said the couple had planned to spend the bulk of their time in Boston. Yesterday, Preiss, who Czech said suffered serious head injuries and internal bleeding, was listed in good condition at MGH.

After he was located by police, Tsopas was transported to a New Hampshire hospital for treatment before he was arrested and charged. “It’s just unbelievable to me that he could do so much damage and be able to walk away,” Kunce said. “There is no reason for people to drink and drive.”

Somersworth Man Charged with Negligent Homicide Following Rollinsford Fatal

Union Leader – July 21, 2013

ROLLINSFORD – A Somersworth man was charged with negligent homicide, felony driving under the influence and conduct after an accident following a fatal near head on collision on Route 4 Saturday afternoon.

According to New Hampshire State Police, Matthew Tsopas, 43, of Somersworth was traveling west on Route 4 in the area of Old Mill Road about 4:27 p.m. when the 2008 Infinity G35sx he was operating drifted into the oncoming lane. The Infinity struck a 2008 Kia Spectra headed west operated by Brian Preiss, 30, of Saint Paul, Minn. Also in the Preiss vehicle was Leah Fonda, 30, of Saint Paul.

“Tsopas fled the scene but was located a short time later and transported to Wentworth Douglas Hospital in Dover,” said state police.  Fonda and Preiss also were taken to Wentworth Douglas where Fonda succumbed to her injuries shortly after arrival. Preiss was transportated to Massachusetts General Hospital with serious injuries.

“It appears that speed and driver impairment are factors in this crash however the crash still remains under investigation,” state police said. “Tsopas was arrested at the hosptial and charged with negligent homicide, felony driving under the Influence of alcohol and felony conduct after an accident. ”

Anyone with information regarding the crash may contact Trooper Christopher Storm at 603-223-8490 or email at Christopher.Storm@dos.nh.gov.

HONEYMOON CRASH: Drunk driver took away ‘one-of-a kind soul’

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 1:50 PM EST posted by Mike Durkin

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -The family of Leah Fonda Preiss, the St. Paul woman killed in a crash with a drunk driver on a honeymoon road trip through New England, released the following statement Wednesday:

STATEMENT

We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken over the death of Leah and serious injury to Brian at the hands of an irresponsible driver. We all are left with a gaping hole in our lives, and there are no words to describe our sudden loss of an amazing woman. She was a woman who dearly cherished her family and friends, an aunt who treated her like a daughter, a sister who shared in many adventures, a sister in law who became a sister, and her dearly cherished nephews. She was a woman who fell madly in love with a man she had known for many years just as a friend. She was a kind loving person who had a quiet strength about her and would do just about anything to help someone. Leah is a one-of-a-kind soul who will be deeply missed.

It is especially tragic that Leah’s death comes a week after her wedding and a little more than a week before her 31st birthday at the hands of someone who acted carelessly and irresponsibly by drinking and driving. There are no words for our anger and disappointment at the driver’s decision to do so. It was at his hands that our beloved Leah was taken away from us and the life she had dreamed of for so long. It is unfathomable that within in a week Leah and Brian had both the best and worst days of their lives. There is no sense to this that we can see, but we hope that this is an eye opening event for many about the consequences of drinking and driving and that they will chose to act responsibly. During this very difficult time we would greatly appreciate that you respect our need for privacy. Thank you.

The family of Leah Fonda Preiss

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Leah Fonda Preiss Memorial Fund
c/o Wells Fargo Bank
809 10th Avenue North
Sartell, MN 56377

Contributions to the Leah Fonda Preiss Memorial Fund can also be made at any Wells Fargo Bank Branch.

THE CRASH

Car1

Near Head-On Collision

Car2

Accident Scene, Route 4, Rollinsford, NH

New Hampshire State Trooper Christopher Storm said 43-year-old Matthew Tsopas was driving west on Route 4 in Rollinsford, N.H. when his car drifted all the way into the eastbound lane and struck the car driven by the newlyweds.

Tsopas fled the scene but was located a short time later and brought to the hospital, where he was charged with negligent homicide, felony DUI and felony conduct after an accident.

Fonda, 30, died in the crash. Preiss, 30, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is recovering from internal injuries and facial cuts with family by his side. He was in surgery Wednesday and his condition has been upgraded to good. The family hopes to have him home next week.

THE WEDDING

Fonda and Preiss, both Mall of America amusement park employees, were married during an intimate ceremony on July 12 in Bloomington. They were one week and one day into their honeymoon when the crash occurred. Just before the crash, the couple called Preiss’ parents to let them know they were on their way to Niagara Falls.

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